Findlay aims to snap women’s hockey unbeaten run

by Aaron Blake

Little-known Findlay (Ohio) comes to Mariucci Arena this weekend facing Minnesota’s women’s hockey team and looking to break a pair of streaks.

The No. 1 Gophers (17-2-5, 12-1-3 WCHA) play Findlay (7-15-2) on Saturday and Sunday. Both games are scheduled for 2:05 p.m.

Not only is Findlay focused on the Gophers and their 18-game unbeaten run, but also its own seven game winless stretch.

“It’s more fun to focus on trying to upset number one than worrying about our own winless streak,” Oliers coach Adam Brinker said. “It’d be nice to stop their winning streak. Who knows?”

Findlay is currently reeling, with a 2-2 tie versus Bemidji State being its only points in the last seven contests. The Oilers last win came against hapless Minnesota State-Mankato (3-18-1, 0-14-0).

But as Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson knows, her team must bring the necessary effort every game.

“There’s a fine line between our work ethic that one day might be a tie with Bemidji State and another day be a sweep of Minnesota-Duluth,” Halldorson said. “Findlay is certainly good enough to take advantage of us if we don’t play well and work hard.”

Halldorson was referring to her team’s struggles against the Beavers (10-8-6, 5-7-4). In four games, the Gophers have tied twice, won in overtime, and blown out Bemidji State 9-0.

The Beavers represent the weakest team Minnesota has tied or lost to this season.

Freshman Kelly Stephens pointed to preparation when explaining how her team controls games.

“The games we do well in, we’re prepared to play,” Stephens said. “The games we struggle, we’re looking for intensity in the game. That lets the other team decide how the game’s going to go.”

Facing a tiring schedule of late ñ seven games in 14 days, four against top-six teams ñ the Gophers have kept their momentum and played hard in every game.

Despite the impressive 18-game streak, Minnesota has won nine one-goal games and tied four times. This means only five of the team’s games during the run have ended with a substantial margin of victory.

When asked how dominant her team has really been in the streak, Halldorson laughed.

“Or how undominant?” Halldorson said. “I don’t really feel like we’ve dominated. We’ve found ways to win close games.”

Brinker noticed the number of close games the Gophers have played during the streak as well.

“They’ve got a lot of gut-check wins,” Brinker said. “They’ve been in a lot of tight games and obviously know how to win.

“For a rebuilding year, I’d love to have a season like they’re having. It’s amazing.”