Short turnaround has Minnesota ready for a Duluth rematch

After playing three weeks ago, the Gophers square off with UMD this weekend.

by Nick Heronimus

This Minnesota women’s hockey team will try to continue their recent hot play against top-flight competition, as they return to action this weekend.

The Gophers (6-3-1, 4-3-1 WCHA) began the current streak of solid play against the No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth only three short weeks ago with a series sweep at home.

But it will be different this time against the Bulldogs as games are slated to be played in Duluth, not in the comfort of Ridder Arena. Saturday’s game is scheduled to be played at 3:30 p.m., and Sunday’s affair will be played at 3 p.m.

It is an odd occurrence for a rematch between the teams to come so quickly. The original match-up conflicted with a Canadian Under-21 tournament, head coach Brad Frost said. Both teams have players participating in this tournament and would be without their services if the teams played on the later date.

The quick rematch however is not such a bad thing in senior forward Erica McKenzie’s eyes.

“We know what they are like.” Erica McKenzie said. “We know what they are going to bring so that’s exciting.”

When discussing the quick rematch Frost described the Bulldogs (7-2-1, 6-2-0 WCHA) as an “incredible offensive machine.” He gives them the label even after the Gophers held UMD to only two goals in their first series this season.

However, when examining the Bulldogs last performance against North Dakota it is clear why Frost respects UMD’s offense. It scored 12 goals in its series against the Sioux, and those 12 goals came during a weekend in which the Bulldogs fired 78 shots on goal.

“They (UMD) love the puck on their stick and do great things with it,” Frost said.

In the early season meeting between the teams, Minnesota’s offense out-played the Bulldogs and prevented them from getting into any kind of offensive groove.

Minnesota scored three shorthanded goals and at times, their best defense was their own offense. The Gophers also outshot the Bulldogs by 22 shots.

The hope for Minnesota is to have those same things working for them this weekend as they had in their first meeting with UMD. Frost has kept the game plan for this series similar to the one put in place for the team’s first meeting.

“We know how to play,” junior forward Gigi Marvin said. “Why fix it if it’s going well, and it’s working right now.”

Despite the consistent success of the Gophers, they have yet to see the results in the polls. The Bulldogs still remain ranked ahead of them at No. 4 while Minnesota is two spots back at No. 6.

The seemingly unjust polls might give the Gophers a reason to cry foul, but they are not allowing themselves to lose focus of the tasks at hand.

“It doesn’t matter where you are now, it matters where you are at the end,” McKenzie said.

The focus is more geared toward doing well against the teams they are playing week to week.

“We just have to get points in the WCHA and move up; that’s what we’re focusing on right now,” Marvin said.