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Minnesota Hockey: Gopher Men and Women Look to End First Half on Positive Notes

The men head to Ann Arbor, while the women are at home.

Nicole Schammel and the Gopher women end the first half at home
gophersports.com

Both the Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s and women’s hockey teams will try and end the first half of their 2018-19 season on a positive note before the holiday break. The men will end with a Big Ten conference series in Ann Arbor against the Michigan Wolverines, while the women will be at home at Ridder Arena taking on non-conference foe Robert Morris.

The Gopher men continue their up and down season this weekend at Michigan. Last weekend the Gophers took #5 Ohio State to double overtime both games before falling in the second 3x3 OT session both nights. While the series will go down as two ties for Pairwise considerations, the Buckeyes got the extra point in the Big Ten Standings both nights taking four of a possible six. Minnesota currently sits in a three way tie for fifth place in the Big Ten with Michigan State and Penn State, All three teams have six points on the season, but have played two less conference games than three of the four teams ahead of them in the standings.

This weekend Minnesota will head to Michigan to try and avenge their poor showing there a year ago. The Gophers blew three goal leads in both games at Yost Arena losing 5-4 in overtime on Friday and tying 6-6 on Saturday. The Saturday game was the most egregious as Michigan scored three goals in the last 6:57 of the game to force OT.

The Gophers take an all-time record of 139-127-15 against the Wolverines into the weekend, but are just 48-70-5 in Ann Arbor. Tyler Sheehy has 15 points in 13 career games against Michigan—so hopefully he can find a way to get on the board repeatedly again this weekend.

The Wolverines are ranked #15 in the nation with a 6-6-3 record. They are just 2-3-3 in Big Ten play this season and are coming off of a loss and a tie to rival Michigan State last weekend. Forward Josh Norris leads the Wolverines with 16 points on the season, while first round NHL draft pick defenseman Quinn Hughes is right behind with 15. Michigan can score—but their goal tending has been relatively awful so far this season. Hayden Lavigne and Strauss Mann have split the games evenly—each playing in seven. Neither has been great with Lavigne having the better stats with a 3.08 goals against average and an 88% save percentage compared to 3.69 and 87.4% for Mann.

The opportunity is there for Minnesota to finally score some goals and see if they can get at minimum a road split...but they still need to figure out how to score goals.

HOW TO WATCH:

Minnesota Golden Gophers @ #15 Michigan Wolverines

Where: Yost Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan

When: 7PM, Friday/Saturday

TV: BTN

Stream: BTN2GO

Radio: 1130 AM, 103.5 FM, IHeart Radio App

Gopher Women Return Home:

The #2 Gopher women’s hockey team returns home for their last series of 2018 when they host Robert Morris in a non-conference series this weekend. Minnesota was one of just a few top ranked teams to avoid the upset bug last weekend when they swept Yale on the road by scores of 7-1 and 3-1.

The Gophers have been led by a sophomore and a freshman this season—just not the ones that people were really expecting to. Grace Zumwinkle has been on fire for Minnesota this season. She was named the WCHA Player of the Month for November and added six points last weekend including a hat trick in Saturday’s win. Her 21 points on the season rank second on the team behind 5th year senior Nicole Schammel and are good enough for 12th in the country. Her 12 goals on the season lead the WCHA and have her tied for 6th in the nation. Taylor Heise was named the WCHA Freshman of the month for November. Her 14 points in the month led all freshmen. They are two reasons why Minnesota is second in the nation in scoring averaging 4.22 goals per game.

Robert Morris comes into the weekend with an 8-8-1 record on the season, but a CHA leading 6-1-1 record in conference play. The two teams last and only met for a series in 2008 that they split. Earlier this year Robert Morris lost and tied Minnesota State in a series—so the Gophers should not have much trouble this weekend. Minnesota will need to try and stop junior forward Jaycee Gebhard who leads the nation with 32 points. However the depth for the Colonials drops off very quickly and Minnesota should dominate with their second and third lines. Goaltender Lauren Bailey has a 2.22 goals against average and a 90.8% save percentage, but she has rarely seen the offensive firepower that the Gopher offense should provide.

The two teams will face off at 7PM Friday and 1PM Saturday at Ridder.