NCAA Hockey on NBCSN: No. 4 Notre Dame hosts No. 1 Minnesota

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish host the No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Compton Family Ice Arena with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also catch the game online

We may be early in the college hockey season, but Friday night’s matchup between Notre Dame and Minnesota provides a possible NCAA tournament showdown.

Two top-five teams, loads of NHL-drafted talent (25 draftees in all), and two of the best coaches in the game will be on display. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.

Don Lucia’s Gophers head to South Bend hoping to stay unbeaten this season. With a 5-0-1 record, they’re one of two teams without a loss this season (St. Cloud State the other). After earning a tie and a win against Boston College two weeks ago, the Fighting Irish provide another early-season measuring stick for the Gophers.

Headlining Minnesota’s attack is junior forward Sam Warning. His five goals and 12 points both lead the team and he’s tied for eighth in the country in scoring. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t drafted. Their forward attack is deeper than just Warning.

Junior Kyle Rau (Florida) and freshmen Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles) and Justin Kloos have been steady in their production. The play of Fasching and Kloos have given the Gophers the kind of offense fitting of the No. 1 team in the country.

As for the Fighting Irish, they’re coming off two straight frustrating weekends in which they split with both Minnesota-Duluth and Vermont. While their record sits at 6-0-2, there’s no doubt coach Jeff Jackson wants more from his team. They’ll get the test they’re looking for out of the Gophers.

The Fighting Irish have a more balanced attack with seven players having five or more points early in the season. Freshman forward Vince Hinostrosza (Chicago) and senior forward T.J. Tynan (Columbus) lead the way with eight points each and sophomore forward Sam Herr leads the team in goals with five. On defense, Shane Tayker and Robbie Russo (New York Islanders) have five points each as well. We told you it was a balanced attack.

Goalies

Minnesota sophomore Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay) has carried the load all season to this point and has been stellar with a 1.64 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. Expect him to get the call once again for the Gophers.

For Notre Dame, senior Steven Summerhays is their workhorse and he’s been just as good as Wilcox. He’s 6-1-0 this season with a 1.49 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.

Despite how steady both teams’ offenses have been, you get the feeling Friday’s game could be a showcase in net.

NHL Draftees

Minnesota – Forwards: Hudson Fasching (Los Angeles), Kyle Rau (Florida), Taylor Cammarata (NY Islanders), Nate Condon (Colorado), Seth Ambroz (Columbus), Travis Boyd (Washington), Christian Isackson (Buffalo)

Defense: Mike Reilly (Columbus), Michael Brodzinski (San Jose), Ben Marshall (Detroit), Jake Bischoff (NY Islanders), Brady Skjei (NY Rangers), Justin Holl (Chicago)

Goalie: Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay)

Notre Dame – Forwards: Vince Hinostrosza (Chicago), T.J. Tynan (Columbus), Austin Wuthrich (Washington), Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh), Jeff Costello (Ottawa), Mario Lucia (Minnesota), Steven Fogarty (NY Rangers), Thomas DiPauli (Washington).

Defense: Robbie Russo (NY Islanders), Stephen Johns (Chicago), Kevin Lind (Anaheim)

Please note: Saturday night’s game between these same teams will be streamed on NBC Live Extra on NBCSports.com at 7 p.m. ET.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.