ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Talking about your former team is kind of like talking about your former spouse. Even if you parted on good terms and remain amicable, there’s always an unspoken undercurrent.
In that vein, it’s not surprising that Minnesota Gophers junior goalie Jack LaFontaine was not made available to the media this week, in advance of his return to the place where he spent his first two seasons of college hockey.
LaFontaine, who will get the start on Friday night when the Gophers play their first Big Ten road game of the season at Michigan, played 22 games for the Wolverines before getting caught in a numbers game and transferring to Minnesota. LaFontaine played a season of junior hockey in British Columbia before arriving in Minneapolis. He spoke to reporters in late October and when asked about the prospect of facing his old team, said only that it would be fun.
“I’m sure there’s some excitement or some nerves to go back, but a whole year has already passed too, so I’m sure that will probably take a little sting out of it,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said. “I’m sure he’s excited, and he should be.”
The Gophers and Wolverines are both 3-4-1 overall a month into the season, and are both looking for that first conference win. The Gophers are coming off a tie and loss with Notre Dame, while Michigan was swept by Ohio State — the defending conference champions — last weekend. For the Wolverines, the biggest need is for consistency.
“I think I could take a period from this game, a period from that game and string it all together,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson told the Michigan Daily this week. “But I can’t tell you we’ve had a game where we’ve had a good 60 minutes.”
The Gophers were 4-1-1 versus Michigan last season, including a sweep of their first round Big Ten playoff series. The games will face off at 5:30 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday, with Big Ten Network televising both.