Nerves not a factor for Gophers

Nerves should be gone for the University of Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team. Coach Brad Frost doesnâÄôt think his team will be anxious for their season opening games this weekend against Robert Morris University. The first game is tonight with the second on Saturday. Both games are at Ridder Arena and start at 7:07p.m. After exhibition games against the University of Saskatchewan and Team U.S.A., the eight new players know the high level of play the team competes at. Frost said they know what to expect. âÄúTheyâÄôve been through it now two games. If they are going to get nervous that would have happened on Sunday when they played the U.S.A. team,âÄù Frost said. Senior captain Gigi Marvin remembers her first game for Minnesota and said games can be nerve-racking whether itâÄôs the first game or not, but the new players belong on the team. âÄúThey deserve to be here and their skills are phenomenal and they will help us win games,âÄù Marvin said. Robert Morris enters this weekend with 20 returning letter winners after a record of 12-22-1 last season, finishing fourth in the College Hockey America league with a 2-10-0 record. The Gophers return 15 letter winners and ended last season with a 27-7-4 overall record. Frost said his teamâÄôs strength going into this weekend is its depth because all four lines and all seven defensemen can play. However, only six defensemen will dress, along with twelve forwards, for the upcoming games. The goalie situation is a different story. Each goalie will see two periods this weekend, with senior Kim Hanlon starting things off on Friday night. Frost said the teamâÄôs weakness comes from the fact that it is still early in the season and the players are continuing to get to know each other but the team has a strong offense. âÄúWe put the puck in the net very well and all of our lines seem to be clicking,âÄù Frost said. The GophersâÄô offense will be challenged by Robert MorrisâÄô senior goaltender Brianne McLaughlin who was on the U.S. womenâÄôs Under-22 Select team . âÄúIt would probably be better for us if she wasnâÄôt in the oppositionâÄôs net because sheâÄôs a very strong goaltender,âÄù Frost said. Also on that team were Marvin, sophomore Emily West, and first-years Anne Schleper, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux and Sarah Erickson . Marvin said seeing McLaughlin play before may serve as an advantage because they will know the different areas to look for and focus on, but they have to capitalize on those opportunities. âÄúIf you donâÄôt incorporate those or take advantage of those your advantage is out the window,âÄù Marvin said. This weekâÄôs practices have focused on the teamâÄôs weaknesses and teaching the eight new players the teamâÄôs systems. Frost said the new players are picking up the systems but also becoming a part of the team. âÄúI think theyâÄôre doing a great job and theyâÄôre fitting in well which is almost more important than picking things up,âÄù Frost said. Marvin said overall the team is excited to start the season. âÄúWe want to go out there and start the regular season off with a bang and have a lot of fun.âÄù