Title implications on the line this weekend at Ridder

The Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team will be battling for a chance to jump out in front in the race for a league title this weekend. Playing Wisconsin, Minnesota could either pull into first place or get stuck in second. The No. 2 Gophers (23-3-2 overall, 18-2-2-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association ) face the No.1 Badgers (24-1-3, 18-1-3- 1) this weekend at Ridder Arena at 2:07 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. After this weekend, the Gophers have just four regular season games left in their season, a series against North Dakota and one against St. Cloud State. The Gophers need to win the battle for the puck in the corner and come out with confidence, sophomore Terra Rasmussen said. âÄúI know in past years, sometimes we have been a little hesitant, especially with a big crowd and not always being successful against them,âÄù Rasmussen said. âÄúWe need to come out with a lot of confidence this weekend.âÄù The Gophers may not have that much confidence at home against the Badgers, not winning a home game against Wisconsin since Jan. 30, 2005. To combat the pressure of the weekend, the Gophers have kept the mood light, having an easier practice on Tuesday. âÄúWeâÄôre trying to not get too worried or afraid, just have a straight head right now,âÄù Rasmussen said. When Minnesota traveled to Wisconsin Oct. 24-26, the Gophers won game one in a shootout but lost the second. Learning from that weekend and the games with Duluth two weekends ago, Minnesota knows they need to come out and play all sixty minutes strong, senior captain Gigi Marvin said. âÄúWe played a phenomenal 50, 55 minutes,âÄù she said. âÄúThere have been lapses where even five minutes in a game cost us. Against Duluth, they got three goals in four minutes, and that ended the game for us.âÄù For 60 minutes, Minnesota will face a deep bench featuring 12 players with double-digit points. The Gophers also have 12 skaters with double-digit points. In between the pipes for Wisconsin has been senior Jessie Vetter, who leads the conference in goals-against average, save percentage and winning percentage. âÄúVetterâÄôs a pretty good goalie, but we have some sharp shooters,âÄù Marvin said. âÄúHopefully, when we get into their zone, we can capitalize and, knowing that theyâÄôre a transition team, we got to play sound defense and canâÄôt give up four goals like we did against Duluth. ThatâÄôll hurt us.âÄù What wonâÄôt hurt the Gophers are injuries. After a couple weeks of missing players, coach Brad Frost said that despite some minor bumps and bruises, his team is healthy and ready to compete. Marvin said she couldnâÄôt be more confident in her team or more prepared for the games. âÄúYou got one and two in the country and one and two in the conference, the best teams,âÄù Marvin said. âÄúItâÄôs going to come down to a battle of wills and who wants it more.âÄù