Gophers travel to Mankato

Minnesota looks to return to its winning ways against the Mavericks.

by John Hageman

The No. 3 Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team will look to rebound against Minnesota StateâÄîMankato this weekend after falling for the first time all season two weeks ago. The Gophers head to Mankato for the weekend series, with FridayâÄôs game set for 7 p.m. SaturdayâÄôs game will begin at 3 p.m. Minnesota had last weekend off and most recently saw action two weekends ago in Madison, falling for the first two times all season, 4-2 and 5-2, to the Badgers. Gophers head coach Brad Frost said the losses served as a wake-up call for his team to be on top of their game for a full 60 minutes. âÄúEffort is not something that is optional,âÄù Frost said. âÄúItâÄôs just something thatâÄôs expected.âÄù Despite the tough losses, Minnesota remains at the top of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at 8-2-0 overall (6-2 WCHA) with 12 points for their six conference victories. The Mavericks (3-3-2, 1-3-2) are second to last in the WCHA standings. But the GophersâÄô lead has narrowed with other squads in the WCHA climbing up the standings, with Ohio State just one point behind the Gophers with 11. Wisconsin and Minnesota-Duluth are tied for third with 10 points each. This doesnâÄôt concern Frost a lot this early in the season and said it wonâÄôt change how he prepares his team for this weekend. âÄúWhenever we play conference games, we want to play our best because we know points are at a premium,âÄù Frost said. Even though conference opponents have gained some ground on the Gophers over the bye week, senior captain Brittany Francis said that it provided the team a chance to step back and regroup. âÄúI think it gave us a chance to relax and to sort of get our minds off hockey for a second,âÄù Francis said. âÄúAnd to âĦ reset and get ready for the next weekend.âÄù Minnesota had the MavericksâÄô number last year, sweeping them in four contests during the regular season by a combined score of 24-9, including a 9-1 pounding on Jan. 30 in Mankato. The two teams also met in the WCHA tournament semifinal game, where Minnesota took the victory, 7-2, in Minneapolis. In order to repeat last yearâÄôs success, junior Terra Rasmussen , also a Minnesota captain, said communication and effort will be key. But with the losses to the Badgers still fresh in the teamsâÄô mind, Frost said his team is ready to come out firing this weekend. âÄúWeâÄôre excited and ready to get back and going again,âÄù Frost said. âÄúWhen you lose two the weekend before, it just makes you want to get back on the ice that much faster.âÄù