Conference season faces off in Bemidji this weekend

Zach Eisendrath

Following their first home loss in nine months, Minnesota’s women’s hockey team looks to rebound this weekend when they hit the road to open Western Collegiate Hockey Association conference play against Bemidji State (1-0-1 overall).

The Gophers (1-1 overall) head to Bemidji for a two-game set – one today and one tomorrow – at John Glas Fieldhouse. Both contests face off at 2:07 p.m.

No. 4 Minnesota suffered a 3-1 loss at the hands of No. 1 St. Lawrence last Saturday at Ridder Arena.

Coach Laura Halldorson used the words hesitant and uptight to describe her team’s performance against the Saints.

“We have to be stronger and expect contact,” coach Halldorson said.

After having a week of practice to recuperate, the team expects more physicality this weekend.

“We expect to come in hard, strong,” sophomore Erica McKenzie said.

“We kind of got kicked around a little bit (against St. Lawrence) physically and I think that is what we are concentrating on this week. We’re going to give (Bemidji) everything we’ve got.”

The Gophers were 5-0 against the Beavers last year. Not only did Minnesota sweep the four-game regular season series; they eliminated Bemidji State in the quarterfinals of the WCHA championships last March.

But that doesn’t mean the Gophers will be taking the Beavers lightly.

“I know that whenever we play Bemidji, and especially when we go to their rink, they come out ready to play,” Halldorson said.

“They will be fired up to play us.”

Despite never suffering a loss at the hands of Bemidji State – Minnesota has a 23-0-3 all-time record against the Beavers – Halldorson said she expects this weekend’s games to be tight.

“They’ve continued to get more skilled as the years have gone on,” Halldorson said. “They’re going to be a tough challenge for us.”

“It will be fun to play now some league games and playing for points. We know it’s going to be a battle.”