The WCHA Final Faceoff has arrived, and the Gophers will look to continue their postseason run with a matchup with Ohio State. The puck is set to drop at Ridder Arena at 3:07 p.m. With a win, the Gophers would move on to the championship game Sunday at noon.
Minnesota-Duluth advanced past Bemidji State earlier today easily by the score of 7-3. The Bulldogs had the game well in hand early in the second when Katherine Wilson scored her second goal of the game to make it 5-0. The WCHA regular season co-champions will await the winner of this afternoon’s game.
The Gophers are coming off of a very interesting series with Minnesota State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, in which they swept the Mavericks 8-5 Friday and managed a 4-3 triple-overtime victory Saturday.
Gophers freshman goalie Noora Raty made her first appearance for the Gophers in about a month last Friday, just hours after winning her first Olympic medal with Team Finland in Vancouver. Raty should be plenty rested today, as Minnesota head coach Brad Frost gave her a few days off from practice this week.
Minnesota will need to give her some help, however, unlike the first two periods last Friday. The Gophers gave up multiple breakaways that gave the Mavericks five goals in two periods.
The Gophers will have the best defensive player in the WCHA to help them do that today, as sophomore Anne Schleper was named WCHA defensive player of the year earlier this week.
What transpires here this weekend will help determine where the Gophers sit in the NCAA seedings, which will be announced Sunday evening. Should the Gophers remain in the top four in the country, they will play their quarterfinal match at home, which means the rest of their season will take place in the familiar confines of Ridder Arena since the NCAA Frozen Four will be held there no matter what.
Be sure to follow the live blog of all the action, brought to you by yours truly, here at mndaily.com.