Nonconference series vs. Brown at Ridder Arena

Zach Eisendrath

Coming off its toughest loss of the season, Minnesota’s women’s hockey team takes a break from Western Collegiate Hockey Association play this weekend, when the Gophers host a two-game set against Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Brown University at Ridder Arena.

The games will face off at 1:07 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Fourth-ranked Minnesota (7-3-0, 4-2 WCHA), following a devastating 2-1 overtime loss to Ohio State last Saturday, hopes to recover this weekend against the Bears (2-2-0, 1-1-0 ECAC).

Despite getting a break from the tough competition that comprises the WCHA, coach Laura Halldorson said the Gophers can’t take Brown lightly.

“Every weekend is going to be tough,” Halldorson said. “Brown is going to come in here excited to play us. They’ll battle us tough. They are a physical team and play with a lot of emotion.”

The Gophers have yet to sweep an opponent at home this season. After an impressive 9-5 win over the Buckeyes on Nov. 4, Minnesota squandered the sweep when Ohio State’s Shelby Aldous fired the puck past goaltender Brittony Chartier with six seconds remaining in sudden-death overtime, upsetting the Gophers 2-1.

“Some of the little things broke down and allowed them to score that goal,” Halldorson said. “Hopefully that’s a learning experience for us and will prove to help us in the long run.”

Two weeks ago, Minnesota pulled off an impressive victory over in-state rival Duluth, only to be held scoreless the next night for the first time in nearly three years and the first time ever at Ridder.

In the past, Halldorson has attributed some of the team’s inconsistent play to its youth.

But after Saturday night’s loss, Halldorson said that this far into the season, it is time for everyone to step up and produce.

“We talk about trying to be consistent because we’ve had sort of our ups and downs over the last couple weekends,” Halldorson said. “And hopefully we’ll improve upon our consistency as the season goes on. “

Halldorson said she will tweak the team’s lineup this weekend in hopes of finding more stability on special teams.

The Gophers executed on the power play Nov. 4 but struggled on the penalty kill. Saturday was a polar opposite, as the Gophers were magnificent on the penalty kill but couldn’t convert on their power-play opportunities.

“I guess it goes back to the consistency thing,” Halldorson said. “We’ll try to be good in both situations this weekend.

“I think throughout the course of the season, we’re going to have a lot of tight games, so it’s about taking care of business and doing the little things that count in a tight game like that,” she said.