The #1 ranked Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey team will look to avoid the emotional let down and have a trap game when Bemidji State comes to Ridder Arena this weekend for a WCHA series. The Gophers are coming off of two huge weekends including a home sweep of then #1 Wisconsin and then taking four of six points from #2 Ohio State last weekend in Columbus. Now the Gophers are once again the team with the targets on their backs, and the Beavers would love to play spoiler this weekend.
The Gophers are in a battle with Wisconsin and Ohio State for both the top team in the Pairwise rankings, and the top team in the WCHA. Wisconsin currently leads the conference by a miniscule margin with a total points percentage of .762 to the Gophers .758, and Ohio State’s .750. Minnesota has played one more game than Wisconsin and two more than the Buckeyes at the moment, but arguably has the easiest stretch down the final three weeks of conference play with this weekend’s series at home against the Beavers and then home and home series against the bottom two teams in the conference in St. Cloud State and St. Thomas. Meanwhile the Badgers and Buckeyes will face off in Columbus on the final weekend of the regular season.
But all is for naught if Minnesota can’t take care of business against the Beavers this weekend. It all starts on the top line with senior Taylor Heise. She has been fantastic this season for the Gophers and was named the WCHA Forward of the Month for the second time this season earlier this week. Her 46 points this season lead the nation in scoring. Add in a resurgence from Amy Potomak the last couple of weeks, and a career year from Abilgail Boreen and Minnesota has been able to score with the nation’s best.
In goal Minnesota has been going to split weekends with sophomore Makayla Pahl and 5th year senior Lauren Bench. Both goalies picked up wins over Wisconsin and Pahl earned the win over the Buckeyes last weekend while Bench lost in overtime. Expect the rotation to continue this weekend against the Beavers.
Bemidji averages just 1.8 goals per game, so if Minnesota can jump out front early and take control, they should be able to control the game. Minnesota is 16-5-1 this season when scoring first with seven of Heise’s 20 goals being the first of the game for either team.
Take care of business. Don’t be careless. Get two wins, and move onto the next. Friday’s game will face-off at 6PM while Saturday’s will begin at 4PM. Both games will stream live on BTN+.