Women’s hockey shooting for goals

Brett Angel

Fresh off its exhibition game dismantling of the Toronto Junior Aeros, Minnesota’s women’s hockey team was back to work Tuesday preparing for their regular season opener this Saturday against Findlay, Ohio.

The Gophers dominated the 19-and-under Aeros Friday at Mariucci Arena. Minnesota totaled 10 goals on 41 shots, a success rate of almost 25 percent.

“The overall thing was we buried the puck when we had some chances,” head coach Laura Halldorson said. “That’s going to be real important as our season goes on and we get into the tight games.”

Despite their success last weekend and their No. 2 ranking in the United States College Hockey Online poll, Minnesota refuses to let its focus stray beyond the next opponent – although that task can be difficult at times.

“You always want to look toward the (games involving) in-state rivals,” forward Krissy Wendell said. “But you’ve got to take every game just as seriously and have the same goal, which is to win.”

The Gophers are opening their season on the road for the first time in two years, something Halldorson said she doesn’t mind.

“I like having a trip like this early in the season,” she said. “A lot of positives come out of that in terms of team bonding and people getting to know each other.”

Minnesota is scheduled to depart for Ohio on Friday afternoon and will play Findlay both Saturday and Sunday. The Gophers prevailed in both meetings between the teams last season, winning 7-1 and 4-0 at Mariucci Arena.

Although Minnesota is not overlooking the Oilers, Halldorson said the team won’t do anything special to prepare for the upcoming game.

“We need to focus on ourselves at this point in the season,” Halldorson said. “If we do that, we’ll be alright.”

Findlay is looking to improve upon its 8-24-2 mark from last year. The Oilers, like the Gophers, have a young team, with 10 faces in their freshmen class.

Ridder almost ready

the ice at Ridder Arena is now being laid and is expected to be ready for practice later this week.

“It’s a two- to three-day process to get the ice ready,” said Craig Flor, the arena’s facilities manager.

Flor is hoping the Gophers will be able to skate on the new surface before leaving on their road trip.

If not, the rink will be ready for practice next Tuesday.

Construction on Ridder Arena – originally slated to be open for practice on Sept. 1 – was delayed over the summer due to a strike by the pipe-fitter workers.

The women’s hockey team was then planning to start practice at Ridder last Monday, but an undisclosed mechanical problem further delayed its move.

“The past two months have been a big push,” Flor said. “There’s a ton of little issues that have compounded the problems.”