Rivalry series pits No. 3 Minn. against No. 4 UMD

The Gophers swept the Bulldogs at Ridder Arena last year.

Samuel Gordon

Brad Frost, Gophers head womenâÄôs hockey coach, said last Saturday that No. 3 Minnesota lacked energy in its 2-1 loss against Bemidji State.

Although disappointing, the loss served as a learning experience for the Gophers.

âÄúWe learned a lot from the game,âÄù senior forward Sarah Erickson said. âÄúBemidji is a hard-working team and we can learn a little bit from them, I guess. We always have to be the hardest working team on the ice.âÄù

That will likely help the GophersâÄô cause this weekend as they take on No. 4 MinnesotaDuluth in a two-game rivalry series at Ridder Arena.

 âÄúAnytime you play Duluth, you know both teams are going to bring their best effort and play very well,âÄù Frost said. âÄúItâÄôs just a matter of us learning from last weekend and regrouping for this weekend.âÄù

Minnesota and UMD have a strong rivalry that dates back more than a decade.

âÄúBoth teams bring out the best in each other and neither team wants to give an inch as it still remains what I would think is probably the biggest rivalry that we have,âÄù Frost said.

The Bulldogs are coming off a series against North Dakota in which they handily defeated the Fighting Sioux 6-1 on Friday before tying 1-1 on Saturday.

Junior forwards Audrey Cournoyer and Katherine Wilson lead a well-rounded UMD attack with six goals apiece, and senior forward Haley Irwin leads the Bulldogs with eight assists.

Gophers defenseman Megan Bozek said she isnâÄôt too concerned with UMDâÄôs offense.

âÄúWe have one of the strongest defensive corps in the country,âÄù Bozek said.

Minnesota needs to rebound offensively, though. The Gophers averaged 4.8 goals per contest in their first nine games before being held to just one goal in SaturdayâÄôs loss to BSU.

However, new assistant coach Nadine Muzerall said she has been working with the forwards on their offensive game.

Muzerall, who played for Minnesota from 1997 to 2000, is the GophersâÄô all-time leading goal scorer.

âÄúShe was a good scorer herself so sheâÄôs been working with us forwards on shooting the puck and where to shoot it,âÄù Erickson said. âÄúWeâÄôve had a great week of practice so far.âÄù

This is MuzerallâÄôs first full week as part of the coaching staff, and Erickson said she has been helpful thus far.

âÄúSheâÄôs very upbeat, and at the same time, she knows when to give critical advice,âÄù Erickson said. âÄúShe knows how to win. SheâÄôs won national championships; sheâÄôs been very successful in her hockey past.âÄù

Home ice could prove to be huge this weekend. Last year, the home team was undefeated in four meetings between Minnesota and UMD. The home team won all four meetings in 2009-10 as well.

âÄú[Home ice] is big. Last year it was big both for them and for us,âÄù Frost said. âÄúWe want to make sure we take care of things on our home ice and try to steal one or two on the road.âÄù