Top-ranked Badgers, Gophers to face off

Minnesota has won the last 11 games between the two powerhouses.

by Grant Donald

The Gophers and Badgers have always had a rivalry on the ice, but this week, the border battle went viral on social media.

Wisconsin jumped Minnesota to take over the top spot in the latest national rankings and tweeted: “Back on top. See you Friday, âĪ@gophersports.”

Then, the Gophers’ official Twitter account fired back with: “@UWBadgers LOLz. See you then,” with a graphic attached illustrating the Gophers’ recent dominance over the Badgers.

“[Our coaching staff] respects [Wisconsin’s coaches], and they respect us,” head coach Brad Frost said. “There is always that friendly battle, so I’m certainly not concerned about the [Twitter exchange] one bit.”

While the friendly banter may be entertaining, the real show is coming this weekend.

The Gophers are coming off a disappointing weekend. They dropped a point after tying Minnesota-Duluth and losing in the shootout.

“[Last weekend’s play] was lackadaisical, myself included,” senior defenseman Rachel Ramsey said. “[We’re] definitely ready to turn it around this week, and obviously [we] are playing Wisconsin, so it’s hard not to get jacked up for that.”

The Gophers have won the last 11 meetings between the two teams, defeating the Badgers five times last season.

But this year, Wisconsin has been on an early tear, outscoring its opponents 30-4 en route to an undefeated record.

“This year [the Badgers] are probably the deepest team up front in our league,” Frost said. “They are similar to how we were the last couple years, where you throw out any line and they can score.”

The Badgers’ prolific attack features three of the top four point-scorers in the nation.

However, Wisconsin has yet to play a team with a blue line as talented as the Gophers’.

At the back of Minnesota’s defense is junior goalie Amanda Leveille, who is coming off a solid weekend in Duluth in which she made 51 saves and posted her first shutout of the season.

Leveille was the goaltender in all five games against the Badgers last year, and she shut out Wisconsin twice.

“Wisconsin is a great team. We know that from last year, and they are already off to a great start this year,” Leveille said. “I love playing in big games like that. It’s fun getting a lot of shots, and I know I have a great team in front of me to help me out.”

Regardless of what happened on social media earlier this week or what happens on the ice this weekend, there is a mutual respect between these two women’s hockey powerhouses.

“There [are] a lot of reasons for rivalries. The Wisconsin [rivalry] carries a lot of respect,” Ramsey said. “When we play them, we know it is going to be a clean game, it’s going to be fast-paced and just one of the best examples of women’s hockey that there is.”