BSU visits for battle of goalies

The No. 2 Gophers have historically dominated the series with the Beavers.

John Hageman

The No. 2 Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team will be playing in Minneapolis for the first time in almost a month as they take on Bemidji State at Ridder Arena this weekend. The history of this series has been significantly lopsided, with Minnesota holding a 39-2-3 all-time record against the Beavers This year, the Gophers are 9-2-1 on the season and are atop the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, where they are 7-2-1. The Beavers (4-8-2, 3-3-2) have two shootout victories, putting them in a tie for fourth in the league with Wisconsin. Last weekend, the Gophers won their first game in Mankato, 4-1, but struggled with early penalties in the Saturday matinee, needing a shootout to best the Mavericks. Sophomore defenseman Anne Schleper forced the game into overtime with a power-play goal at 11:31 in the third period. She also scored the only goal in the shootout. For her effort against the Mavericks, Schleper was named the WCHA defensive player of the week. So far this year, she has six goals and four assists. The Beavers split a series with St. Cloud State last weekend. This weekendâÄôs matchup features squads on opposite sides of the spectrum in special teams this year, with BSU in the bottom of the league in penalty kills (.788) and the Gophers in second in power play efficiency (.203). At least one of the games this weekend will feature the top two goalies in save percentage in Bemidji StateâÄôs Slovakian sophomore Zuzana Tomcikova (.931), who is just behind MinnesotaâÄôs Finnish freshman Noora Räty (.961). âÄúTo make [Tomcikova] move is probably going to be one of the biggest things,âÄù Schleper said. âÄúSheâÄôs a very solid goalie for them, and I think thatâÄôs kind of where their success stems from.âÄù The Gophers return home for their first series at Ridder Arena since Oct. 24 when they swept St. Cloud State to keep their perfect record alive at 8-0-0. During the recent road trip, the Gophers slowed down from their quick start, going 1-2-1 with a shootout victory. The only two losses of the season came at Wisconsin on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1. âÄúThose two games against Wisconsin, to be honest with you, seem like a long time ago,âÄù Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said. âÄúWeâÄôre really excited to be back home and in front of our own fans.âÄù Sophomore Sarah Erickson said it is good to get the adversity of a slight slump out of the way early in order for the team to learn from it and make adjustments. Minnesota will take on the Beavers on Friday at 6:07 p.m. and Saturday at 4:07 p.m.