Road border battle up next for Gophers women

Minnesota’s last game against Wisconsin was the 2016 national semifinal, where the Gophers beat the Badgers 3-2 in overtime.

Sophomore defender Sophie Skarzynski handles the puck at Ridder Arena on Oct. 29, 2016, where the Gophers beat St. Cloud State 3-0.

Maddy Fox, Daily File Photo

Sophomore defender Sophie Skarzynski handles the puck at Ridder Arena on Oct. 29, 2016, where the Gophers beat St. Cloud State 3-0.

Tommy Sletten

The Gophers are in for a wild ride this weekend across the border.

No. 2 Minnesota will face off against No. 1 Wisconsin for the first time this season in what is always a fierce rivalry series.

“We actually have played against some of the girls for years even before college, so just knowing them, knowing their program … The blood is in the air, or water, like they say, when we play them,” said senior captain Lee Stecklein.

Minnesota (13-1-2, 11-1-2 WCHA) has had some easier matchups lately.

The Gophers swept the Bemidji State Beavers last weekend by a combined score of 8-1 and haven’t lost since October.

Wisconsin (14-1-1, 10-1-1 WCHA) is, as usual, hot on Minnesota’s heels midway through the conference schedule.

The Badgers get a home rink advantage this weekend against the Gophers. Wisconsin hasn’t lost at home this season.

Wisconsin will also look for retribution from the last time the two teams faced each other, which came in the Frozen Four semifinal earlier this year. The Gophers won 3-2 in overtime on the shoulders of then-freshman Sarah Potomak to advance to the national championship.

“Beating them is always fun,” Stecklein said. “But last year in the Frozen Four, winning in overtime … was pretty exciting.”

Minnesota may be disadvantaged by its short-handed roster this weekend.

The Gophers will likely be without star forward Potomak, who was injured last weekend, and freshman forward Alex Woken, who is out indefinitely with a lower body injury.

Head coach Brad Frost said Potomak is day-to-day, while Woken “could be out for an extended period of time.”

A bright spot for the weekend could come from senior forward Dani Cameranesi’s scoring milestone.

The assistant captain will look for her 200th point. She reached 199 in Minnesota’s last series.

Cameranesi said it is a secondary goal behind a Gophers victory this weekend.

“It would definitely be an honor,” Cameranesi said. “We just have to play well as a team and hopefully come out with a few wins this weekend. I personally don’t like focusing on [points] because I think when you start getting too individualistic, then things don’t go as well for the team.”