The Gophers women appear to be playing their best hockey of the season ahead of a big two-game WCHA streak against their biggest rival this weekend.
Minnesota have won 11 of their last 12 games after a 1-3 start. And now the Gophers face the nation’s No.1 team in a border battle against undefeated Wisconsin (15-0-1, 11-0-1 WCHA) in Madison, Wisconsin.
The Minnesota No.5 (12-4-0, 7-3-0) was on an 11-game winning streak before stumbling last Saturday in a 2-1 loss to No.8 Colgate at the Smashville Showcase in Nashville, Tenn . Gophers swept Colgate in a two-game streak earlier in the season.
“It’s not the result we wanted,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said in a press release following a loss to Colgate. “Penalties all night, no debit. We’ve got to be a little better, so (I’m) looking forward to having a great series next weekend in Wisconsin. ”
Wisconsin haven’t lost all season, their only flaw being a draw against Bemidji State almost a month ago. Since that draw, the Badgers have had a tear, allowing just three goals in as many games while scoring 20.
Minnesota has received help from a familiar new face this season.
Rookie Peyton Hemp won his second straight WCHA Rookie of the Month title producing two goals and five assists in six games.
Hemp wasn’t the only one earning a monthly WCHA honor. A more familiar face to Gopher fans, Taylor Heise won his first career WCHA Forward of the Month in his senior season. Heise exploded in November, accumulating 16 points on eight goals and eight assists in six games.
The Gophers and their starting line-up will face a tough job in the two-game series against the Badgers, who are second in scoring in the nation, averaging five goals per game. Graduate student Lauren Bench saw the most ice time of the U’s three goaltenders and started one more game than rookie Skylar Vetter and junior Makayla Pahl.
Across the ice, the Minnesota scorers won’t have the easiest game, either. The Badgers are tied for first in goals against per game, allowing less than one goal at 0.88 goals per game. Wisconsin goaltender Kennedy Blair was the Badgers’ goaltender of choice with a .951 save percentage.
The teams will meet at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at LaBahn Arena.