Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 11/23/11
Last weekend the Minnesota Gophers men's hockey squad split with in-state rival St.Cloud State, as it dropped the Friday night game, 4-3 -- despite outshooting the Huskies 43-18 -- and then rebounded with a solid 5-0 win. In the second game, Gophers senior goaltender Kent Patterson set a school record with his sixth shutout of the season. When asked about this amazing accomplishment so early in the season Patterson was quick to point the team defense being played in front of him. "The guys have been really good about letting me see the puck," said Patterson, "and if I give up a rebound it seems like they are always there for me to clear them out." For the season, Minnesota is now 11-3 overall and 8-2 in the WCHA. This weekend it will travel to East Lansing, Michigan to play future Big Ten opponent Michigan State. So far this season the Spartans are 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the CCHA conference. This weekend, Minnesota will look to take back the Mariucci-Bessone Trophy against Michigan State after the Spartans reclaimed it for the first time since 2000 with a 5-2 win last year in Minneapolis. The teams will play in a weekend series in East Lansing, Mich. for the first time since Feb 1 and 2, 1980. The Gophers and Spartans have met at least once a season since 1993-94 thanks to the now-defunct College Hockey Showcase, but only played each other twice in the same year one time (1996-97) in that span. Minnesota also holds the advantage overall in the all-time series against Michigan State with 101-42-11 ledger. Nick Bjugstad had five points (4g-1a) against St. Cloud State last weekend. He is now tied for first in the nation with Jack Connolly of Minnesota Duluth and T.J. Tynan of Notre Dame with 21 points. Bjugstad has 13 goals, which is second in the nation behind Austin Smith of Colgate who has 15. Bjugstad already has as many goals this season as Mike Hoeffel did last year when he led the team in goals. After scoring a hat trick to lead Minnesota last Saturday Bjugstad was asked about his offensive output. "It's always nice to contribute goals but I was set up nicely by my teammates," he noted. "The most important thing tonight was the fact that we came back and got the win. ... It will be kind of fun to step outside the conference at Michigan State and continue to try and improve as a team." Michigan State is ranked No. 20 according to USCHO.com and the Spartans will be the third ranked opponent that Minnesota will face this year. The Gophers are 4-0-0 against teams ranked in the USCHO poll this year, as they swept then-No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth and then No. 15 North Dakota. The Gophers fell out of the top spot in both polls this week. They are currently ranked third in the USCHO.com poll and second in the US Today poll. One area to watch this weekend is the shot total by the Gophers against Michigan State. The Spartans have been outshot in all three periods for the season and 354-320 overall. Minnesota should present numerous matchup problems with its team speed for Michigan State, and, if the score is close late, keep in mind that the Gophers have outscored their opponents 24-4 in the third period this season. FS North will cover all the festivities live this weekend with the broadcast starting at 5:30pm on both Friday and Saturday night with Gophers Live presented by Century Link.
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