Minneapolis, Minn.–Minnesota (1-1, 0-1 CCLA) now turns its attention to their cross-divisional rival, St. Thomas. The Gophers are coming off their first loss of the season that came at the hands of their conference opponent, Michigan State. Meanwhile, St. Thomas will be opening their season up against the Gophers to start their journey towards the national championship. Their 2017 season ended with a 13-10 loss to Concordia–Irvine in the DII national championship game.
Series History: Minnesota is 5-7 against St. Thomas since 2001. Last year, the Gophers grabbed an exciting 13-9 victory over the Tommies, getting their first win against St. Thomas since 2006. The last time Minnesota beat St. Thomas in back-to-back years was in 2001 and 2002, while also winning in 2003 as well.
In the Polls: Minnesota remains ranked No.17 from the preseason Division I polls. St. Thomas sits at No. 1 in the Division II rankings. When they last played in 2017, Minnesota was ranked No. 18 in DI while St. Thomas was ranked No. 1 in DII. The Under Armour MCLA Coaches Poll for Week 1 will be released this Wednesday.
New Netminders: Over the past couple seasons, it has been a showdown between two goalies, Matt Jorgensen for Minnesota and Austin Dover for St. Thomas. With both of them graduating last spring, Minnesota and St. Thomas will have a new look in cage. For Minnesota, Aaron Peterson has been spectacular in his 2 starts this season. However, junior Max Chlan has been given the starting nod for this game. Meanwhile, the Tommies have a pair of new goaltenders, Patrick Jackson and Drew Bouman. Jackson is a transfer from RIT (NCAA DIII), while Bouman is a freshman from Lakeville North High School. Both had a strong showing during their fall scrimmage against the Gophers.
Best in the Upper Midwest: St. Thomas has been arguably the best team in the Upper Midwest as they own a 21-4 record against upper midwest teams over the past 3 seasons. Minnesota will be looking to prove where they stand as they will also play Minnesota–Duluth, St. Johns, and NDSU this season–all of whom are ranked within the Top 10 in MCLA Division II.
Faceoff Challenge: The Tommies have struggled against the Gophers at the faceoff X every game since 2015, winning a combined 23 of 59 (.390). A significant reason for their troubles has been the play of Minnesota’s Niklas Damberg. However, Minnesota will be without Damberg for a second straight game. Trenton Woodcock is expected to take the bulk of the faceoffs. Last week, Woodcock was 8-14 against Michigan State’s Hunter Stephans, a 2nd Team All-CCLA faceoff specialist.
The Tommies are riding a season opening streak of 17 games. The last season opener they lost was in 2005 to University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.
Niklas Damberg will be competing in the giant slalom at the USCSA Midwest Regional Championships after placing 1st last weekend in the Lake Superior Divisional race.
Trenton Woodcock leads all active Gophers with 5 goals and 3 assists in three career games against St. Thomas. In last year’s win, he matched his career game high of 5 points (3g, 2a).
Last week was Woodcock’s first faceoff taken since his senior year in high school, where he went 45-77 (.584) for Rosemount
Amar Batra leads all Gophers with 6 goals and 4 assists, putting him at a career total of 44 goals, 43 assists and also 13 points away from the career century mark
Defenseman Mitch Hurley will be making his collegiate debut for the Tommies. Hurley is a Simley graduate who was coached by Minnesota assistant Luke Johnson, the head coach of the Simley Boys’ lacrosse team. Hurley was also a Gopher Select, playing for the Minnesota Lacrosse Club.