Gophers ready for weekend series with dangerous Badgers

Monica Wright

It’s the battle of the unbeatens this weekend as Minnesota — riding high on a 17-game win streak — takes on third-ranked Wisconsin, that brings eight straight wins of their own to the matchup at Mariucci Arena.
The series is the last before the WCHA tournament next week. Keeping its win streak intact before the tournament is a top priority for the Gophers.
“Wisconsin has only lost to us and Duluth, and they’ve won the games they were supposed to,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “They will be fired up to come in as underdogs and try to beat us.”
And after last weekend’s unimpressive series against St. Cloud State, Halldorson knows something about fired up underdogs.
“I was not happy with how we played last weekend,” Halldorson said. “I think it’s nice to have a strong enough team that even when you don’t play your best you can still win two games. But we need to step it up this weekend.”
Which means junior Winny Brodt couldn’t have come back at a better time.
Brodt, the team’s leading scorer on defense, injured two vertebrae in a mid-January game against Minnesota State and has been cleared to play for the first time in six weeks.
Six extremely long weeks according to Brodt, who missed playing against such crucial opponents as top-ranked Minnesota-Duluth and her former teammates on New Hampshire.
“I’ve never been injured before, so this was a new experience,” Brodt said. “It was frustrating, but I’m ready to get back into playing — Wisconsin is a strong team.”
Junior Emily Buchholz knows exactly how tough the Badgers are; her younger sister, Bridget, is part of Wisconsin’s lineup.
Bridget — who was a walk-on this inaugural season for Wisconsin — has proved to be a valuable player for the Badgers and has earned the praise of her big sister.
“I’m really proud of her and the fact that she’s doing so well,” Emily said. “When we play against each other it’s a chance for our family to see both of us play at once.”
But who does the family cheer for?
The Buchholz parents have a unique way of remaining impartial to the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry: They sliced a fleece jacket from each school in half and constructed two new hybrid jackets which they proudly wear in support of both schools.
“It’s fun to play against each other and to push her around in games,” Emily said. “But when the game is over, we leave it all on the ice.”

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