The Gophers enter the weekend as the #1 seed, having gone 32-3-4 this season. They will be playing in their fourth-consecutive Frozen Four and are also looking for their fourth-consecutive berth in the national title game. Minnesota is making its 11th Frozen Four appearance overall and is seeking its fifth national championship.
NCAA Quarterfinals: Minnesota 6, RIT 2
The Gophers drew eighth-seeded RIT last weekend, who reached the NCAA Tournament with an automatic bid after winning the College Hockey America tournament in double overtime. Milica McMillen and Kate Schipper both scored within the first five minutes of the game to put Minnesota ahead early, but the Tigers climbed back within one after scoring on a five-minute power play. The Gophers answered with three power-play goals of their own, from Rachel Ramsey, Maryanne Menefee, and Hannah Brandt, and held a 5-1 lead before the second period expired. RIT scored late, but Lee Stecklein notched an empty-netter for the 6-2 final. Brandt and Schipper each posted three-point nights.
The Gophers: An Overview
Strengths/Weaknesses: Minnesota is one of only two teams in the country to be averaging more than four goals per game; only BC is scoring more. The Gophers also lead the nation with a 31.3 power-play efficiency, and are outshooting opponents by more than 20 shots per game. It’s clear that offensive dominance is their bread-and-butter; however when that is taken away from them, it becomes a big problem. Minnesota has been shut out in all three of its losses this season.
Players to Watch:
- F Hannah Brandt, 32 goals, 38 assists, 70 points; 2nd nationally in goals and 3rd nationally in scoring; team’s leading point scorer; 65.6% in faceoff circle leads the team, and 607 faceoff wins is tops in the country
- F Dani Cameranesi, 23 goals, 40 assists, 63 points; tied for 2nd nationally in assists, 4th nationally in scoring; leads team in game-winning goals with 6
- D Rachel Ramsey, 9 goals, 24 assists, 33 points; leads team in defensemen scoring; 54 blocked shots
- D Milica McMillen, 11 goals, 16 assists, 27 points
- D Lee Stecklein, 5 goals, 21 assists, 26 points; 56 blocked shots leads team
Minnesota vs. Wisconsin
6 p.m. EST/5 p.m. CST, Ridder Arena, Minneapolis, Minn.
Season Series: The Gophers are 3-0-1 against the Badgers this season. They swept Wisconsin in Madison early in the year, winning 4-1 and then 2-1 in overtime. When the series returned to Minnesota, the Badgers fell 4-1 once again in the opening game, but tied the Gophers 1-1 the following day.
Friday’s Match-Up: Wisconsin has, over the course of the season, looked like the better team, but that hasn’t halted the Gophers’ success against them. Minnesota’s defense has looked more than apt against the Badgers, letting up just one goal in each of the four games and limiting their chances more than pretty much every other team. If that same defensive effort can hold strong, the Gophers stand a good chance at advancing to the national championship game.