No. 2 Gophers travel to No. 9 Harvard for final nonconference series

Minnesota didn’t score last time they played Harvard in Massachusetts.

Samuel Gordon

The No. 2 Gophers womenâÄôs hockey team will head east to No. 9 Harvard this weekend for its final nonconference series of the season.

Minnesota (12-2-0, 8-2 WCHA) is fresh off two blowout home wins over New Hampshire.

The GophersâÄô only two losses this season were away from Ridder Arena. Minnesota split both its road series with No. 1 Wisconsin and Bemidji State.

This weekendâÄôs trip will be the first of back-to-back road series, but goalie Noora Räty said the team has something to prove against (5-1) when it lands on the East Coast.

âÄúWe havenâÄôt had that much success on the road in the past couple years,âÄù Räty said, âÄúbut I think this weekend is going to be the weekend that we show what weâÄôve got and how good we are.âÄù

The Gophers defeated the Crimson twice last season in Minneapolis. Minnesota last traveled to Harvard in December 2009, when they failed to score a goal in either game of the series.

 âÄúWe havenâÄôt in the past had a lot of success in Boston. I think we just have to put that behind us,âÄù Anne Schleper said. âÄúItâÄôs a new team. ItâÄôs a new year.âÄù

ItâÄôs a new team for the Crimson, too.

Harvard lost four of its top six scorers from last seasonâÄôs team to graduation, but leading scorer Jillian Dempsey is back and so is top defenseman Josephine Pucci.

Dempsey leads the team with four goals through six games and has 6 points, tied with Pucci and four other players for second on the team.

Marissa Gedman has a team-leading 7 points with three goals.

The GophersâÄô defense has been stellar all season. It has allowed just 13, fewest in the WCHA.

Schleper credited the forwardsâÄô increased responsibility in this yearâÄôs defensive success.

âÄúThe backchecking has been incredible, which has really helped us defensemen out as far as staying up and keeping our gap up and not giving [opponents] any respect coming into the zone,âÄù Schleper said. âÄúThat is one of the biggest differences from years past.âÄù

Notes

A new scoreboard is being installed at Ridder Arena, and Minnesota has moved its practices to Mariucci Arena as a result, but Räty said it hasnâÄôt affected the teamâÄôs preparation.

âÄúItâÄôs still hockey,âÄù she said.