Sammy Walker, Minnesota

Nov. 22-23 | 3M Arena at Mariucci, Minneapolis

Jan. 31-Feb. 1 | Kohl Center

BEHIND THE BENCH

Bob Motzko's first season coaching the Golden Gophers in 2018-19 after 13 years at St. Cloud State was taking a promising turn down the stretch with five straight victories. But an overtime loss at Notre Dame in the Big Ten semifinals after a controversial penalty call ended the campaign with a 18-16-4 record.

FIRST STAR

Center Sammy Walker (above) is the reigning Big Ten freshman of the year after he finished last season with 10 goals and 16 assists in 37 games. He's due for an even bigger role this season after the departure of the Gophers' top two centers, first-team All-American Rem Pitlick and Tommy Novak.

SCOUTING REPORT

When Big Ten honorable mention pick Mat Robson signed with the NHL's Minnesota Wild after his junior season, it set up the Gophers for an all-new look at the goaltender position in 2019-20. Jack LaFontaine, who played two seasons at Michigan before moving back to junior hockey ahead of a transfer, is intriguing at the position alongside freshmen Jared Moe, a sixth-round draft pick in 2018, and Justen Close. A 12-player incoming class includes four NHL draft picks led by 2019 first-rounder Ryan Johnson, a defenseman.

RESULT TO REMEMBER

Both of last season's series between the teams ended in splits where the Badgers won the second game. At the Kohl Center on Jan. 26, the teams traded the lead in the second period before defenseman Peter Tischke scored 4:02 into the third for a 4-3 victory.

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