Four weeks ago, on Jan 19, Hockey Day in Minnesota featured two high school games played on a frozen lake, the final matchup of longtime WCHA archrivals Minnesota and North Dakota as conference foes and the opening game of the shortened 2013 NHL season for the Minnesota Wild against the Colorado Avalanche.
Sunday, Feb. 17, Hockey Day in America will feature the Minnesota Golden Gophers men's team and the Minnesota Wild, among a number of games. The Gophers will take on the Wisconsin Badgers at 3:30 PM CST on an outdoor rink constructed at Chicago's Soldier Field as part of the Hockey City Classic. The Gophers-Badgers game will be televised live by Big Ten Network. Preceeding the Gophers-Badgers game is a matchup at noon CST between the men's teams from Notre Dame and Miami-Ohio.
After splitting with St. Cloud St. last weekend the Gophers fell from #1 in both the USCHO and USA Today college hockey polls to #2 in both polls. The Gophers, however, took an opportunity to get back on track Friday night when they defeated the Badgers 3-2 in Madison, WI. The Badgers lack offensive punch but they make up for that by playing very sound defensively so don't be surprised if Sunday's matchup is a low-scoring, intense one.
The Minnesota Wild have had a so-so start to the lockout-shortened 48 game 2013 season. They have continued to struggle scoring goals and have had defensive breakdowns at inopportune moments in a number of their games. Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu have provided most of the offensive firepower for the Wild while other players who were being counted on to provide some extra punch have struggled. As of Sunday their record was 6-6-2 and they were in 11th place in the NHL's Western Conference, two points shy of the 8th and final playoff spot.
The Wild have made a minor trade and have tinkered with their lineup in an effort to find the right combination of skaters to get their season headed in the right direction.
Like the Wild, their opponent on Sunday, the Detroit Red Wings, have struggled with their game early this season too. The Wings, perennially one of the top teams in the Western Conference, are currently 7-5-2 and cling to the 8th and final playoff spot in the conference.
The Wild and Red Wings will face off at 5:00 CST at the Xcel Energy Center. The game will be televised locally by FSN. Enjoy Hockey Day in America, hockey fans!