Zambonis end hockey weekend

Monica Wright

After losing 3-2 to second-ranked Brown on Saturday, the Minnesota women’s hockey team had one thing on its mind: defeating Harvard on Sunday.
But the zambonis had something else in mind.
After both machines spontaneously broke down in fits of flames, smoke and antifreeze, the Gophers went back to their hotel Sunday afternoon not knowing when or if the game would be re-scheduled.
“I don’t know if I’d call the situation ridiculous, but it was definitely a challenge,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “We were close to coming back on Sunday because we didn’t have a definite site and time scheduled, but there was hope.”
But the Gophers didn’t get the final word on the rescheduling until just under three hours before game time on Monday morning.
While the pre-game warning was minimal, Halldorson planned ahead just in case by insisting the bus be packed with equipment in the off- chance the game would be held at the last minute.
And despite the bizarre circumstances, Minnesota went on to defeat the Crimson in a clean 3-2 victory.
“The situation made it more difficult to get to the arena and get focused for the game, which was more frustrating than anything,” freshman Kelsey Bills said. “The game kind of got dragged out, but it all worked out in the end.”
Who Let the Bulldogs Out?
In just two years, Minnesota-Duluth went from a fledgling program to the WCHA champions, upsetting the conference stronghold Gophers. And this weekend, a rematch of the league’s most intense rivalry is set to take place at Mariucci arena.
But the Bulldogs will be facing the Gophers with one serious handicap: six members of the team are absent, including their four top scorers, two recent WCHA Rookies of the Week, and famed goaltender Tuula Puputti.
Each team member will be heading Salt Lake City, Utah to participate in the Four Nations Cup, a tournament between the national teams from the United States, Finland, Sweden and Canada.
The nation’s current leading scorer, Maria Rooth, and teammate Erika Holst will suit up for the Swedes while Hanne Sikio, Puputti and freshmen Sanna Peura and Satu Kiipeli — the last two WCHA rookies of the week — will take up sticks for Finland.
But even with their arch rivals a few players short, Bills said the Gophers know better than to take any team lightly at this point.
“A win is a win, and we could look at it that their top players won’t be there,” Bills said. “But that shouldn’t be an excuse.”
Former Gopher and WCHA defender of the year Winny Brodt will also be taking part in the tournament for the U.S. National team.
Buckeye beating
With upsets in the WCHA as common as a goal by Nadine Muzerall, there shouldn’t be any surprises left in the league.
But when Bemidji upended Ohio State 2-1 last Friday, jaws continued to drop as teams the Gophers formerly dominated begin to make a place for themselves in the rankings.
“This year programs have to go through a loss before players understand how serious it is and how quickly things change,” Halldorson said. “I think we took Ohio too lightly just like they might have taken Bemidji too lightly.”
The Buckeyes were the first team to defeat the defending national champions three weeks ago with a score of 4-2.
Rumble in the ranks
After Minnesota’s loss to Brown on Saturday the Gophers dropped to a third place tie with Minnesota-Duluth as the Bears overtook second place and Dartmouth held strong with a unanimous first-place ranking.
Wisconsin rounded out the top teams with a fifth-place ranking, the highest ranking ever for the second-year program.
Slomo slaps it in
Junior Laura Slominski earned her 100th career point Saturday as she popped in the first goal to get Minnesota on the board in its 3-2 loss to Brown.
Slominski, who reached 99 points in the series against Ohio State, was held without a point against Minnesota State-Mankato — something that hadn’t happened in over a year.
The right wing led the nation last year in both short handed points (eight) and short handed assists (six) while coming in tenth in total points with 59.

Monica Wright covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]