Minnesota on fire heading into break

On a seven-game winning streak, the Gophers don’t want a repeat of last year.

The Minnesota women’s hockey team enters the break riding high, following a string of victories against their Western Collegiate Hockey Association opponents.

The Gophers (13-4-1 overall, 11-4-1 WCHA) are on a seven-game winning streak that has helped them to solidify their No. 2 spot in the WCHA.

All seven of those wins have come against conference opponents and have put great distance between Minnesota and the rest of the teams in the WCHA, with the exception of No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth.

The roll that the Gophers are on right now does not mean they will settle for just a successful first half this season.

“We played really good this first half and our goal is to come back as well as we have played and to improve,” junior defender Rachael Drazan said.

The Bulldogs hold the top spot in the conference, even though the Gophers have defeated them three of the four times they have met this season.

Minnesota will not worry about what Minnesota-Duluth is doing, however, and just concern themselves with their own business, head coach Brad Frost said.

Last season after the Christmas break, the Gophers stumbled out of the gates and lost five of six.

Minnesota lost ground in the WCHA because of those losses and never really got back to playing the consistent hockey they are trying to play this season.

But right now the team is playing the style of hockey they so desperately needed last year.

Many of the players on the Gophers squad will be heading off for international play over the break for USA Hockey and Hockey Canada. That experience will hopefully help to keep those players sharp.

The players that aren’t competing internationally will be coming into the rink to better themselves for another go around with their WCHA opponents.

“We are going to do our best to get on the ice and stay in shape,” Drazan said.

Statistically through the first half the Gophers have some players that are leading the WCHA in important categories.

Senior forward Erica McKenzie is leading the conference in goals scored (14), game-winning goals (6) and power-play goals (5).

“I look at this as two seasons – now we start back over. Whatever we did now means nothing,” McKenzie said. “We have to continue like it’s the first day.”

Drazan leads the WCHA in power-play points with 11 and senior forward Bobbi Ross leads the WCHA in short-handed goals (3) and short-handed points (4).

With all the early success for the Gophers, Frost is looking forward for his players to get some well-deserved rest.

“The first half is over and we have been very successful, but it will be nice for the kids to get a break,” Frost said.