Gophers face Beavers in last home series

In the past four games, Minnesota’s power-play units have scored 11 goals on their last 27 chances.

Brian Deutsch

Riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak, the Minnesota women’s hockey team will try to extend its streak in its final home series of the regular season.

The Gophers will play host to Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival Bemidji State in a pair of games this weekend.

The action kicks off Friday at 7:07 p.m. while the series finale will be played Saturday at 3:07 p.m. Both games will be played at Ridder Arena.

Minnesota (19-8-1 overall, 16-7-1 WCHA) has dominated the Beavers in the past with a 28-1-3 all-time record. The eighth-ranked Gophers swept Bemidji State earlier this season in Bemidji.

Minnesota has never lost at the John S. Glas Fieldhouse, but the last time the two teams met at Ridder Arena, the Beavers picked up their first-ever win over the Gophers.

The Beavers scored a pair of second-period goals to come back from an early 1-0 deficit to secure the 2-1 win on Jan. 7, 2006.

To prevent a repeat of last year, Minnesota has focused on improving their play in the defensive zone.

“The (defensive zone) will be a major focus for us as the season goes on,” junior forward Bobbi Ross said. “That will basically decide how successful we are.”

After struggling through the first six games after winter break, the Gophers appeared to rekindle their first-half fire, winning four straight games against St. Cloud State and North Dakota.

In the two series, Minnesota outscored their opponents 19-5, and its special team units have been dominant as well.

The Gophers have not given up a power-play goal since Jan. 20, a game Minnesota dropped to Minnesota State 3-4.

In the four games since the Gophers’ last loss, the power-play lines have notched 11 goals on 27 advantages.

“We’ve had two successful weekends in a row,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “We just want to continue to take steps forward by improving our game and playing our best at the end of the season.”

Bemidji State (10-15-5, 8-12-4 WCHA) is winless since Jan. 13 when they squeaked out a 1-0 win over WCHA bottom-feeder North Dakota.

The Beavers will have to limit the number of penalties they take in order to keep Minnesota’s lamp-lighting power-play unit off the ice.

Bemidji State is second in the conference in penalty minutes, taking 451 penalties in 30 games, an average of 15 minutes in the penalty box per game.

The Beavers are led by junior goaltender Emily Brookshaw. While her team is ranked second to last in goals scored, averaging just 1.97 goals per game, Brookshaw has maintained a .908 save percentage.

“(Brookshaw) is a very, very good goaltender, and we can count on her to stop most of the first shots,” Ross said. “It’s going to be key for us to jump all over the rebounds and to screen and tip as much as we possibly can.”

Two wins over Bemidji State would give the Gophers a boost before next weekend’s season finale at Minnesota Duluth.

“(A strong finish) would be huge,” freshman defenseman Michelle Maunu said. “Obviously, we had that little rough stretch after Christmas but finishing strong just gets our confidence up and helps us going into the playoffs.”

Marvin earns honor

After recording three assists and a goal in last weekend’s St. Cloud State series, sophomore forward Gigi Marvin was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week.

The award is Marvin’s first career offensive player of the week award, although the sophomore picked up five WCHA Rookie of the Week honors last season. Marvin leads the Gophers this season with 34 points and 16 goals.