No. 2 Minnesota to host MNSU

Minnesota moved up one spot in the rankings after splitting with No. 1 Wisconsin on the road last weekend.

Samuel Gordon

After an emotional series at top-ranked Wisconsin last weekend, the No. 2 Gophers will play Minnesota State on Thursday and Friday at Ridder Arena.

The series, which normally would take place on a Friday and Saturday, was moved up a day because of MinnesotaâÄôs homecoming football game Saturday.

The team has had less time to practice as a result, but senior captain Jen Schoullis said the intensity has remained the same.

âÄúThe culture of this team is very hard-working,âÄù Schoullis said. âÄúWe work hard every day and the coaches really push us.âÄù

Minnesota State is a much-improved team from a year ago. The Mavericks are out to a 4-2 start this year, although they have yet to play a WCHA game.

Gophers head coach Brad Frost said he has made it clear to his team that every game is important, no matter the opponentâÄôs ranking.

âÄúWeâÄôve talked quite a bit that regardless of our opponent, weâÄôre going to need to be at our best,âÄù Frost said.

âÄúYou look back at last year, there are some games that we might have let slip away that ended up costing us at the end of the year, even though the games are at the beginning of the year.âÄù

The GophersâÄô offense is second in the conference with 29 goals in six games. Their defense, however, is the best in the conference.

Minnesota has allowed just six goals in six games. Wisconsin was averaging eight goals per game prior to the Minnesota series and scored just two goals in their final five periods against the Gophers.

âÄúWe have a lot of returners so we have a lot of depth to our defense,âÄù senior defenseman Kelly Seeler said. âÄúI think overall, the team defensively, offensively, has played really well.âÄù

MinnesotaâÄôs penalty kill has been key to its strong defense. The Gophers are 27-for-28 killing penalties and have not allowed a power play goal over the last five games.

âÄú[The penalty kill] has always been a strength for our team,âÄù Seeler said. âÄúYou never want to have to kill off penalties but if you happen to get a penalty and youâÄôre able to kill it off itâÄôs great.

âÄúWeâÄôve alternated between different types of kills so I think just mastering the different types and being the best we can be for each one allows us to be successful.âÄù

Frost said Schoullis is back to health and will take her normal place in the lineup. She had been hindered by an undisclosed upper body injury that she suffered Oct. 7 against St. Cloud State.

âÄúFor the most part, our lines will get back to as normal as they can be,âÄù Frost said.