Frost hoping day off gives Gophers some spark

With tough opponents facing the Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team in the next few weeks, preparation is key. Practices become crucial time for players to master systems and coaches to observe who is ready. However, coach Brad Frost gave his players a day off on Tuesday after working hard on the ice on Monday. Junior Michelle Maunu said the day off is nice to have as she babysat in the morning, went to class and hung out with former Gopher Anya Miller. âÄúItâÄôs a nice time to rejuvenate,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs nice because weâÄôre in the second half; weâÄôre into the intense, more difficult part of the season and you need that extra time to have off and itâÄôs nice that we do.âÄù When the Gophers stepped back on the ice on Wednesday, they looked crisp and sharp, Frost said. âÄúMy hope is that we will come out strong. Obviously last weekend isnâÄôt exactly what we wanted,âÄù Frost said. âÄúI expect our kids to respond in a good way and come out with a good effort.âÄù This weekend, the Gophers (21-3-2 overall, 16-2-2-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association ) are tied for first in the WCHA with Wisconsin and travel to Mankato to take on Minnesota State (7-14-3, 4-13-3-2). When the Mavericks visited Ridder Arena in November, the Gophers took the series, winning 2-1 and 6-3 . In order for Minnesota to come out strong, a right combination of effort and execution is needed, Frost said, and the team is âÄúmaking sure weâÄôre ready from the drop of the puck and playing our best hockey.âÄù Last weekend, the Gophers lost and tied Duluth, which caused them to drop to second and third in the polls. Through the weekend, sophomores Jen Schoullis and Emily West kept their point streaks alive. Schoullis has a 10-game scoring streak and West has scored in 12 straight games. As a team, the Gophers went 1-for-11 on the power play last weekend, as Minnesota has focused on their special teams. âÄúWe lost the special teams battle against Duluth,âÄù Frost said. âÄúWe know that against good WCHA teams weâÄôre going to have to win power-play penalty kill battle.âÄù Duluth also scored a short-handed goal against the Gophers as they were caught out of position, junior Kelli Blankenship said, and positioning is one area Minnesota has also been focusing on in practice. Despite all the preparation, the game plan for the weekend is to keep things simple, Maunu said. âÄúBut obviously we need to put the puck in the net and play really good defense at the same time,âÄù Maunu said. âÄúIf theyâÄôre not going to be able to score, then itâÄôs going to be a lot easier for us.âÄù