Women’s hockey hits the road for Providence series

Paul Markgraff

After last weekend’s split with Providence, the Gophers women’s hockey team is getting ready to head back to the East Coast this weekend for a series with Northeastern.
It’s the team’s second road trip in as many weeks, and long road trips are a nuisance the Gophers are going to have to contend with this season. Minnesota plays a total of 16 games away from its home ice.
This will be the fourth and fifth away game in a row for the Gophers. And Minnesota has no time to relax during these long road stretches.
But the fun doesn’t end this weekend for the Gophers.
From Nov. 12-20, the Gophers must play twice at Ohio State and twice at Wisconsin.
“It’s an away semester for us,” said Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson.
She said sometimes long road stands are good for the team because there are fewer distractions and the players get to spend more time with each other.
But there’s a downside.
“When it’s two weekends in a row, it’s stressful,” she said, worried about the team’s school work. “We talked about it at the beginning of the year, and they just have to plan ahead.”
But it’s not like the Gophers can’t win away from the comforts of Mariucci Arena.
So far they are 2-1 on the road. And they have a solid chance to sweep Northeastern this weekend if they can step their game up a notch.
Last season Minnesota beat the Huskies 5-2 in convincing fashion. But one of the weapons they used was Jenny Schmidgall. She posted two assists and two goals during that game.
Schmidgall is gone this season and someone else from the Gophers is going to have to step up and make plays in order for them to win the WCHA-ECAC battle.
Fortunately for the Gophers, they have a few players who can step up and make things happen.
Freshman wing Ronda Curtin has already shown potent scoring ability — she has posted four goals and one assist in four games.
Junior center Nadine Muzerall is another player who makes things happen for the Gophers. To date, she has posted three goals and five assists in four games.
And sophomore wing Tracy Engstrom adds to the mix with her four goals and two assists.
So the Gophers may have the talent they need to win. Their offense and their defense are strong. And goal keeper Erica Killewald is superb, saving 62 of 65 shots in four games.
“We have two lines that are capable of scoring, and we have two defensemen with scoring talent,” said Halldorson. “It could be a number of people that could pull it out for us.”

Paul Markgraff covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]