The Big Ten announced a 28-game slate for the 2020-21 hockey season, but the Michigan Wolverines only found out about their first 10 contests to open up the season. This week will see the conclusion of this beginning stretch, with a pair of games against Minnesota in a top-five battle at Yost Ice Arena.
After starting the year with back-to-back sweeps against ranked opponents, the Wolverines have now dropped three of their last four. This is less cause for panic and more a reminder of this team’s youth. However, some of that youth (and talent) will be absent for this series, as the US World Junior team has claimed five Michigan players and three Gophers.
Series Info & How to Watch
Teams: No. 4 Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-0-0, 18 pts) at No. 5 Michigan Wolverines (5-3-0, 8 pts)
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Game 1: Tuesday, Dec. 8, 8:00 pm ET — Big Ten Network
Game 2: Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6:30 pm ET — Big Ten Network
A few losses in a competitive Big Ten are not the end of the world, but the Wolverines are not quite as sharp as some hoped. The loss to Penn State was indicative of some legitimate problem areas, including sloppiness on offense and leakiness in defense, and these are certainly items on Mel Pearson’s list to fix leading into the second half of the year.
Even with a full roster, the Gophers are a challenging foe. The visitors come into the series undefeated thus far and are probably the team Michigan will need to be most concerned about in the conference standings. They are well-coached and experienced, and though they have not scored a ton of goals this season, they have yet to allow more than two in any game thus far.
It would be great to go into the break with a little momentum, but even a split would be a solid result from this top-five showdown. The Wolverines will miss some of their key contributors, but there is still enough talent left to put together a strong effort. Minnesota has been great defensively, so this will be a real test for the Michigan attack.