The long holiday break is over for the No. 8 Golden Gophers (9-4-1) hockey team as they host No. 18 Merrimack (10-4-2) in the Mariucci Classic on Friday night at 7 p.m.
RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) and No. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell will square off in the other semifinal game at 4 p.m. Friday.
The Gophers are playing for the first time since a weekend series against Michigan State on Dec. 5-6. Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox earned a shutout in the first game against the Spartans and made a career-high 42 saves in a 3-3 tie in the second game.
Wilcox, per the Star Tribune, is just three shutouts behind Kellen Briggs for the most in school history. Briggs finished his career with 13 shutouts. Wilcox's 60 career wins are fifth in school history.
“I don’t really shoot for [records], I don’t really make them my goals,” Wilcox said, “but it’s kind of nice to get [them] just because I’ve put in the time here and been here a few years. It’s kind of nice getting up in the ranks here and putting a little bit of history in the program. But other than that, it’s not something I really look for.”
Wilcox owns a .926 save percentage and a 2.13 goals-against average this season. According to USCHO.com, he's ranked 27th in in the country in terms of GAA.
Minnesota will be short-handed without three key players. Hudson Fasching, Ryan Collins and Leon Bristedt are all competing at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto, according to GopherSports.com. Fasching and Collins are playing for the U.S. while Bristedt skates for Sweden.
The winners and losers will meet Saturday at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.