The Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey team faces St. Cloud State in a home-and home series this weekend in what is a must sweep. Minnesota trails Ohio State atop the WCHA standings by mere hundreds of percentage points but is ranked #1 in both the Pairwise and the National Polls. The winners of 19 in a row over the Huskies, the Gophers can not afford to play down to their opponent and see another long term wining streak fall, along with their conference title chances.
Minnesota did what they needed to do at home last weekend getting a sweep over Bemidji State. Lauren Bench made a 26-save shutout in Friday’s opener to win her 100th career start and came back on Saturday to win #101 as well. Meanwhile St. Cloud State sits in 7th place in the WCHA and is trying to stay ahead of St. Thomas to avoid the #8 slot.
Minnesota’s quest for their first regular season WCHA crown in three seasons is dependent on the Gophers recording more points than the Buckeyes over the last two weekends of the regular season. In theory that should be relatively easy as Minnesota has home-and-homes against the bottom two teams in the conference while Ohio State heads to Bemidji this weekend and then ends the regular season at home against Wisconsin next weekend. If the Buckeyes go 4-0 in regulation, the conference title is theirs, but if the Gophers go 4-0, OSU can not drop a single point the rest of the way or the Gophers will be on top.
Minnesota just needs to take care of business beginning Friday. Both Friday and Saturday’s games will face off at 3PM. Friday will be in St. Cloud, Saturday at Ridder Arena with both games streaming on BTN+.