Gophers looking to keep rhythm

Zach Eisendrath

According to sophomore forward Bobbi Ross, Minnesotaís womenís hockey team has only one objective left to accomplish in the final two weeks of the regular season: keep its rhythm.

After splitting with newly-crowned Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season champions Wisconsin last weekend, the fourth-ranked Gophers (20-9-1, 15-8-1 WCHA) will try to keep their momentum going this weekend when they play a home series against perhaps the WCHAís hottest team, ninth-ranked St. Cloud State (15-14-1, 12-11-1 WCHA).

The puck drops at 7:07 tonight at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, while Saturdayís game takes place at 4:07 p.m. on Minnesotaís home ice at Ridder Arena.

Back on Jan. 13 and 14, the Gophers enjoyed one of their best all-around weekends of the season, winning 2-0 in St. Cloud and 5-0 the next day in Minnesota.

But Ross said Minnesota is expecting a battle out of the Huskies, who have won seven of eight games since the two teams met.

ìI think we canít really go by how the games went the last time we played them, because it seems like since we played them theyíve just been on fire,” Ross said. ìWe just expect a great team, one of the teams that are playing the best in our league right now; weíre definitely going to have to be at our best.”

Coach Laura Halldorson said she agreed that the Huskies would be tougher the second time around.

ìThat was a great weekend for us; it was big getting the two shutouts, but since that time, St. Cloudís really been on a roll,” she said. ìTheyíre obviously playing really well right now.”

At this juncture, Ross said she is comfortable with how the team is playing, but hopes the team can continue streaking as the regular season comes to an end.

ìThese last two weeks are all about rhythm,” Ross said. ìEvery game from here on out is about rankings, pairs Ö about March.”

Halldorson said playing solid hockey heading into tournament time is a priority.

ìI think when you get to this point late in the season you definitely want to be peaking at the right time,” she said.

ìWe want to carry over the momentum that we got last weekend in the Wisconsin win and keep building on that this weekend. The goal is to be playing our best hockey here at the end of February.”

Hanlon honored

First-year goalie Kim Hanlon was named National Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. Hanlon picked up the biggest win of her young career Friday with a 3-1 victory over the WCHA regular-season conference champion Wisconsin.

ìI think itís the biggest win sheís had as a college player,” Halldorson said. ìI think itís well deserved because she pulled out a big victory for us.”