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Gophers Hockey: The Day Off...

Minnesota and Boston College are playing a rare Friday-Sunday series due to football. How does that affect the series finale?

University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia
University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia
Minnesota Athletics

The college hockey structure is set so that teams play two-game series on Friday and Saturday. Home and home? Doesn't matter. In few cases throughout the season do two teams play each other two teams play each other twice not on back-to-back nights.

This is one of them.

Minnesota and Boston College face off Sunday afternoon for the second time in three days at Mariucci Arena. The change, necessitated by Gopher football hosting Nebraska next door at TCF Bank Stadium yesterday, breaks up the normal pattern.

Players get a chance to rest. Coaches have the opportunity to change the gameplan. Gophers head coach Don Lucia was able to go to Duluth to watch his son Mario play for Notre Dame (coincidentally Minnesota's next opponent) and see a couple players fighting for spots on this year's World Junior team (of which Lucia is Team USA head coach). That wouldn't happen with a normal series.

On one hand, the day off gives a chance to reflect. Friday night's game ended in a 3-3 tie (with the Eagles winning a shootout) and was as exciting as a non-conference game gets. Maybe it was because of the day off or how things ended, but Friday night's game ended with both teams shaking hands. That rarely, if ever happens in a two-game series. Four different recaps could be written covering different things and it would still be entertaining.

If anyone needs a reason to search out regular season college hockey, Friday night's game works.

There were quick goals, highlight goals, highlight goal celebration fails, highlight reel saves, questionable calls and at least one or two more things that have somehow been forgotten.

There was a shootout, which while not counting in any standings did give Boston College the opportunity to celebrate a technical tie. The shootout is new this year for the Gophers and was in place because the team wanted to practice before Big Ten play. It's an interesting dynamic where despite the result on the scoreboard something else happened. Will the shootout effect both teams having another day to think about the ending?

"No. That's what I told them after," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said after Friday's game. "I said 'hey it's a tie and it's good practice for us.'

"I've talked to other coaches (who have shootouts) in their league play about the dynamics of that and there is a lag with shootouts. When you lose a shootout, you feel like you lose a game and when you win a shootout you feel like you win a game. In league play there is points involved and in this there is not."

It's hard to know whether that is the case. Maybe the sense of "you're only as good as your last fight" goes away with added time. Maybe it exacerbates.

On the other hand, having a day off is a break in the momentum. You have to wonder how much of a difference it makes with how both teams played for 65 minutes. Of course, given the speed Friday on the ice, Sunday should see both teams recharged.

"It's nice to have a day off when we're playing a good team (like Minnesota). It's going to be a fast-paced game," said Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau. "It's a good day off for both teams."

There are many negatives and unknowns going against the unusual Friday-Sunday series, but more than anything the day off gives a chance to heal. Minnesota was without senior defenseman Jake Parenteau for the majority of the first BC game when he was hit into the Gopher goal. While Lucia didn't believe the injury, which saw the blue liner lay motionless on the ice and need help to get off, as serious, there is a better chance for Parenteau to play today over yesterday.

"Based on having 5 D today at the last half and the pace and the early season conditioning, it's probably good there is a day off in between," he said.


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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter --