Undefeated Gophers battle for redemption against national champs

No. 2 Minnesota travels to Madison for an early season border battle.

stwhockey-bm

stwhockey-bm

John Hageman

The Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team will seek revenge against reigning NCAA champion Wisconsin this weekend at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisc. Friday and SundayâÄôs games are slated for 2 p.m. The Gophers are atop the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at 8-0-0 overall with six conference wins, outscoring opponents 37-11. Wisconsin is 3-3-0 under interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser. The No. 2 Gophers remain unbeaten following a series last weekend where they defeated St. Cloud State by a combined score of 11-0. Freshman goalie Noora Räty received WCHA rookie of the week honors for her shutout against the Huskies Friday. No. 8 Wisconsin split its series against Ohio State last weekend. The Buckeyes snapped a 21-game winless streak on Friday, defeating the Badgers 4-3. Junior Emily West, who leads the WCHA in points with 13, said the strong play early this season has made playing that much more enjoyable. âÄúWe all believe in each other and arenâÄôt trying to do anyone elseâÄôs job,âÄù West said. âÄúEveryoneâÄôs just focusing on themselves and thatâÄôs what is helping us succeed right now.âÄù The Gophers are 26-19-6 against Wisconsin all time and were 1-1-2 in the regular season last year âÄî their only victory coming in Minneapolis. The Badgers defeated regular season champion Minnesota in the WCHA Championship game at Ridder Arena last year to win the conference playoffs, which senior forward Chelsey Jones said is still fresh in the teamâÄôs mind. âÄúWe definitely have not forgotten,âÄù Jones said. âÄúWe would like to take home another sweep, but theyâÄôre a tough opponent, and weâÄôre just always going to have to throw as much as we can at them.âÄù Jones said that the Gophers will have to continue to put the pressure on for the entire game in order to be successful. Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said there are lessons to be learned from the last time these teams met. âÄúIt just goes back to whenever you play good teams, which we do all the time,âÄù Frost said. âÄúWe didnâÄôt take advantage of the opportunity last year and weâÄôve definitely learned from it.âÄù Wisconsin went on to win the NCAA Championship over Mercyhurst last season. It was the BadgersâÄô third title in four years. The Badgers are missing some talent from last year, but returning sophomore Brooke Ammerman, who was second on the team in goals with 27 during her freshman campaign, will provide some concern for the Gophers. Wisconsin also boasts the third and fourth leading goalies in the WCHA in goals allowed per game with senior Alannah McCready and freshman Becca Ruegsegger. The Badgers will be without head coach Mark Johnson, who is taking a year off to coach the U.S. womenâÄôs Olympic hockey team in Vancouver. Frost shared WCHA coach of the year honors with Johnson last year. Regardless of the rivalry and recent history between the teams, Frost is trying to keep this weekendâÄôs series in perspective. âÄúItâÄôs a great rival and thereâÄôs a lot of respect between the two teams,âÄù Frost said. âÄúWe know that âÄî very similar to when we play Duluth âÄî weâÄôre going to have to be at our best if weâÄôre going to win.âÄù