Who: Michigan (22-14-0) vs #13 Minnesota (22-12-3)
Where: Joe Louis Arena
When: Saturday, March 21st. 8:00pm
These two teams have met twice before, both sweeps on each others home rink. The Wolverines dropped the Gophers at Yost in two offensive shootouts; Minnesota returned the favor by dismantling Michigan at Mariucci Arena, something the Wolverines haven't forgotten.
"It's a bitter feeling playing a team that you lost to them the last time you saw them. We got momentum in our favor right now, and I think we'll be ready to go tomorrow." Boo Nieves said last night in the postgame.
Both teams have played themselves in and out of at-large contention all the way up until this point but where the Wolverines have lived and died by goal scoring Minnesota turned to Adam Wilcox, who has been fantastic since February posting three shutouts in that time period including a 39 save performance yesterday.
Offensively Hobey Baker finalist Mike Reilly and the senior pair of Kyle Rau and Travis Boyd headline the group, but the sophomores Kloos, Cammarata and Fasching have been lethal for this team as well.
Berenson had his own thoughts on playing the Gophers. "Minnesota will play a real good brand of Division I college hockey. Their defense jump up, they move the puck really well. Their forwards are as skilled as ours, and so are their D."
"Their D might be the best D corps in the Big Ten and their goalie Wilcox was Player of the Year last year, so he's as good as anybody. He didn't start off good this year but he finished up really good. So you saw him against Ohio State today, and he can win a game by himself."
This is the test. Michigan has been able to play themselves in contention all year long, but every time they get in a must-win situation like this the wheels fall off. If the Wolverines are going to the postseason, Steve Racine has to be the one who gets them there.
Win and advance. Lose and the season ends.