Women’s hockey ready to roll into WCHA action

by Paul Markgraff

The Gophers women’s hockey team is back on the road this weekend at Ohio State and next weekend at Wisconsin for another long road trip.
Aside from feeling the pressure of playing on the road so much, the team is excited to get out and play some teams from the newly-formed WCHA-women’s league.
“We had a tough stretch against some of the best teams in the country,” Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson said. “It will be nice to see how we compare against some of the other teams in the WCHA.”
Fortunately for Minnesota, Ohio State hasn’t been very effective against conference opponents. The Buckeyes are 1-4-1 in conference play.
Ohio State split its series with St. Cloud State, which the Gophers annihilated 10-1 both times they played.
The Buckeyes aren’t exactly a threat to score a bucket of goals. Ohio State has scored 19 goals and has been scored on 40 times, making its goal differential -21. Within the conference, Ohio State has managed to keep its goal differential to -6.
Even though Ohio State is a first-year program, Halldorson does not see it as a team to be overlooked.
“It’s a good test,” she said. “It’ll be a little less hectic.”
But the Gophers run into problems when they play unranked teams like Ohio State. Even if the Gophers win by a lot, chances are they aren’t going to move up in the rankings.
Only by playing top-10 teams will the Gophers have a chance to move up.
“We’re expected to do well,” Halldorson said. “If we had a problem, we’ll go down (in the rankings).
“The only way we’ll get up in the rankings is when we play (New Hampshire) in January,” said junior wing Kris Scholz.
Whatever happens this weekend, this semester on the road has been a trying one for the Gophers. After a five-game road stand, they returned to Mariucci Arena last weekend to face Brown and Harvard.
And the team feels like they’re here today, gone tomorrow.
“This is one of the toughest stretches of the season,” Scholz said. “You have to know how to handle your time. You just have to roll with the punches.”
Nevertheless, the Gophers are up for this weekend. Obviously, they expect to win. And according to the Gophers’ record (5-3-0) and Ohio State’s record (1-8-1), odds are they will.

Paul Markgraff covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected].