HOW THEY PLAY The Golden Gophers are a skilled, strong skating club with a wide-open style ideal for their 200-by-100-foot home rink. But the Frozen Four is being played on an NHL-regulation 200-by-85 surface, and this season Minnesota was 7--5 on small ice.
PLAYERS TO WATCHThe team was one of three in the NCAA to have three players score 40 or more points this season: right wing Danny Irmen (above right, 43 points) center Ryan Potulny (41 points), who are tied for the team lead with 24 goals, and left wing Tyler Hirsch (44 points).
NEED TO KNOW Although its recruiting is still focused in-state (21 of 26 players are Minnesotans), The U, as natives call it, routinely cherry-picks players beyond its borders. Potulny and Irmen are North Dakotans, and goalie Kellen Briggs is from Colorado Springs, home of Colorado College.