Seniors will be honored in regular season finale

UND shutout the Gophers last time the two teams met. Postseason spots are on the line.

Gophers' forward Sarah Erickson handles a puck during a game against Bemidji State on Jan 20 at Ridder Arena.

Erin Westover, Daily File Photo

Gophers’ forward Sarah Erickson handles a puck during a game against Bemidji State on Jan 20 at Ridder Arena.

Samuel Gordon

The 2011-2012 women’s hockey regular season will soon come to a close, and for Minnesota’s seniors, that means their collegiate careers are nearing the end, too.

Seven seniors will be honored prior to Saturday’s contest. Head coach Brad Frost said this year’s group has provided the team with strong leadership and has been an excellent example for underclassmen.

“I think the biggest thing is just their intensity and their willingness to work hard in practice,” Frost said. “This is one of the hardest-working groups we’ve had as a whole. I think each one of these seniors exude that day in and day out.”

Senior team captain Sarah Erickson said she expects an emotional weekend.

“It’s crazy how fast four years fly by,” she said, “but we’re going to put our emotions behind us and enjoy the night, but hopefully we can enjoy a win at the end of the game.”

In order to do that, Minnesota will have to take care of a strong North Dakota (19-9-3, 15-8-3 WCHA) team that is jockeying for a position in the national rankings.

The No. 5 Sioux beat the No. 2 Gophers 3-0 in their last meeting Dec. 3 — Minnesota’s only shutout loss of the season.

“Their goaltending was huge in the game we lost. We outshot them two-to-one, and we couldn’t bury our chances,” senior forward Jen Schoullis said.

UND’s dynamic forwards, twin sisters Jocelyne Lamoureux (31 goals, 46 assists) and Monique Lamoureux-Kolls (25 goals, 41 assists) are first and second in scoring in the conference, respectively. UND as a team is second in the WCHA with 145 goals.

“Certainly we’ll need to be very good defensively. We’ll try and contain them as best we can,” Frost said.

Though the seeding for the WCHA tournament is finalized, this weekend’s results could affect the national rankings and game locations as the national tournament draws near.

“In the national picture, this is a huge weekend for them and for us to remain where we’d be hosting in the first round, and North Dakota’s not that far out from hosting [a first-round game] themselves,” Frost said.

Erickson said the senior-laden team is excited to take a shot at the conference and national titles.

“This one, out of all four years, is the best team I’ve ever been on,” Erickson said, “as far as talent goes and just camaraderie and mental toughness.”

Notes

—Senior forward Emily West, who was inactive Saturday with a dislocated jaw, was cleared to play this weekend. West left Friday’s game when she was illegally checked by Ohio State’s Ally Tarr.

Tarr was suspended one game for the hit, and she will not play Friday in Ohio State’s game against Wisconsin.

—Three Gophers players were named to the U.S. Women’s National Team’s preliminary roster. Defensemen Anne Schleper and Megan Bozek and forward Amanda Kessel are among the 27 women selected to take part in training camp from March 25 to April 3 at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The final 21-player roster will be announced April 1 and will travel to Burlington, Vt., to compete in the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship.