Before I write about Gophers volleyball beating Michigan on Wednesday night, please go read Jeff Day’s column/analysis of the current state of the program, for the Star Tribune. I don’t know of any journalist who covers the Gophers as well as Day, and he sums it up very well, I think.

That was written before the Gophers took on Michigan on Wednesday. I think, for the most part, Big Ten fans assume that Michigan is going to be good at everything, but that doesn’t currently extend to volleyball; the Wolverines are 1-6 in the conference, their only victory a home win against Northwestern, and 3-13 overall.

The quirks of the schedule meant that this was the second time in 13 days that the Gophers took on Michigan, and just like the first time around, Minnesota absolutely hammered the Wolverines. The first time, the sets were 25-9, 25-17, and 25-18; this time, it was 26-24, 25-11, and 25-16. So I guess Michigan improved by seven points, this time around.

Mckenna Wucherer led the Gophers by hitting .500 for the match, with 10 kills, and she threw in a couple of blocks as well for good measure.

Minnesota plays Northwestern at home on Sunday, in another can’t-afford-to-lose match. The Gophers’ next three matches are all at home, all against unranked opponents, before they have to travel to Purdue and Wisconsin. I’d say they need to tune up to be ready for that road trip, but the way this season is going, the first thing they need to do is not lose.

A brief Wild season preview

The Wild open their season tonight, conveniently the night after the Twins were eliminated from the playoffs. There are season previews available everywhere, but it’s basically the same team as 2022-23, minus Matt Dumba on the blue line; Bill Guerin is making a strong bet that the team he has is the team he wants, and that injuries down the stretch were what prevented his team from making a run last season, and not the general talent level.

The headline is the total lack of defenseman for Minnesota, which is missing Jared Spurgeon indefinitely after the team captain was injured in the preseason. The defensive lineup for opening night has a real third-pairing kind of feel to it; Jonas Brodin and Brock Faber are a pretty good duo, though the latter is a rookie, but I think most people would have trouble picking out which of Jake Middleton / Alex Goligoski and Calen Addison/Jon Merrill is the second pairing, and which is the third.

Up front, as ever, the Wild will be defined by whether anyone besides Kirill Kaprizov can score goals. Matt Boldy has to prove that his final few weeks of last season weren’t a fluke, especially after he went missing against Dallas in the playoffs. Marco Rossi is getting another chance to stick, though he’s between Marcus Foligno and Freddy Gaudreau, who both have their own things to prove (Foligno, that last season was a fluke, and not the previous two; Gaudreau, that anyone except Dean Evason believes that he belongs in the top nine.)

In goal, Filip Gustavsson had an out-of-nowhere great season in goal, and got a contract as a result. And of course, there are no examples of streaky play from an NHL goaltender, so I’m sure everything will be fine there. Especially since his backup is Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s a future Hall of Famer, and also 62 years old, and the only player left in the NHL who was once teammates with Gump Worsley.


WILD vs Florida, season opener, 7pm, BSN



GOPHERS MEN’S HOCKEY vs. St. Thomas, 7:30pm/6pm, both games on FOX9+
GOPHERS WOMEN’S HOCKEY at St. Thomas, 4pm/4pm, Friday on FOX9+
(note: Friday doubleheader at Xcel Energy Center)


WILD at Toronto, 6pm Saturday, BSN (and on Hockey Night in Canada)
TIMBERWOLVES at New York, preseason, 6:30 Saturday, NBATV


VIKINGS at Chicago, noon Sunday, FOX
GOPHERS VOLLEYBALL vs Northwestern, 12:30pm

The Future

GOPHERS FOOTBALL at Iowa, October 21
LOONS at Sporting KC, October 21
TIMBERWOLVES at Toronto, season opener, October 25