Two wins means a conference title for Minnesota

The Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team will have to make quick adjustments this weekend to St. CloudâÄôs rink. Traveling up to St. Cloud, the Gophers will be playing on an Olympic-sized sheet of ice, larger than what Minnesota skates on at Ridder Arena. The No.1 Gophers (26-3-3 overall, 21-2-3-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association ) have a chance to clinch the WCHA regular season title this weekend, but they have to get through the Huskies (14-14-4, 11-12-3-2 ). The first game is in St. Cloud tonight with the Gophers wrapping up their regular season Saturday at 7:07 p.m. at Ridder Arena. Senior Captain Melanie Gagnon said the extra room puts extra pressure on the defense. âÄúWeâÄôre not necessarily used to [the rink size], so they exploit us to the outside quite a bit,âÄù Gagnon said. âÄúWith their rink, itâÄôs just hard to get your bearings because itâÄôs a completely different game, in my opinion. Their strength and quickness makes it that much more hard to grab onto them but itâÄôs like any other team.âÄù Junior Jaimie Horton said the team will be able to handle the changes by adjusting defensively and on the penalty kill. âÄúWe have a lot of team speed and we should be able to use it to our advantage, but itâÄôs always different,âÄù Horton said. âÄúWe have a lot of confidence, a lot of team speed, a lot of offensive talent and our goaltenders have been standing on top of their heads.âÄù One advantage Minnesota continues to have over their opponents is the teamâÄôs bench depth. Coach Brad Frost said his team will have players sitting in the stands that could be playing regular shifts on other teams. âÄúWhile itâÄôs hard, they are all team players and realize that everybody has a role and everybodyâÄôs important,âÄù he said. However, the Gophers canâÄôt count on the Huskies rolling over and letting them win the championship with out a fight. The Huskies have given top teams a run, recently beating Minnesota Duluth, 4-3. âÄúThey are a really quick team,âÄù Gagnon said. âÄúThey really get you off guard, especially on their home ice. They never quit so you can never count yourself up.âÄù For the five seniors, Rachael Drazan, Kim Hanlon, Gigi Marvin, Dagney Willey and Gagnon , SaturdayâÄôs game will be a chance to hang their first banner as Gophers. Gagnon said the seniors might be a little more excited about the championship because the first years will have many more opportunities. âÄúEveryoneâÄôs excited, but itâÄôs day-by-day. As a senior, IâÄôve lost many championships,âÄù she said. âÄúSo being in this position, itâÄôs all about focus because in the WCHA, nothingâÄôs ever guaranteed.âÄù