After a 10-day break in which the Gophers women’s hockey team cheered on their fellow athletes on the gridiron win a pivotal game against Penn State on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, the team feels rested and rejuvenated going into November. The team will face off at home versus Bemidji State this weekend, their last home contest until January.
“It was a real honor for us all to be recognized for our WCHA championship and NCAA runner-up finish last season," head coach Brad Frost said in reference to his team being honored on the field during the football game. “It’s a great time to be a Gopher with a lot of our sports teams continuing to roll. We’ve really grinded the past six weeks and it was definitely earned.”
The Gophers have reached No. 1 in the NCAA rankings for a plethora of reasons, with a stifling defense and a top goalie in senior Sydney Scobee that held the best offensive team in the nation, Wisconsin, to four goals through a two-game series.
But, most of their production offensively has come from their top line, comprised of sophomore Taylor Heise, junior Grace Zumwinkle, and redshirt senior Sarah Potomak who combined have 26 goals throughout the season, with Zumwinkle scoring a goal in nearly every game.
That line was effective during the Wisconsin series, as five of the teams six goals came from the top line.
“Continuing to read off each other and utilizing our strengths has a huge plus for us this year and I think since we are able to do that so well makes us so hard to handle," Zumwinkle said of the group's chemistry.
Going into the second half of the season, Frost wants to see more consistency in their efforts against every team, not just against the bruising Badgers and Buckeyes but even against smaller schools. Being the No. 1 team in the country could be nerve-racking and add more pressure to the Gophers this season but Taylor Heise isn’t worried.
“We try to always bring the same fire we do in a huge game like those two against Wisconsin versus any team," she said. "You just always have to play in each game with a ton of energy and stay hungry. Luckily, we have a culture in our program that wants to make that natural for us by going into and performing in every game like it’s our last.”
Focus will be key for every game going forward and right now it is on the pesky Beavers.
“Our minds right now are on Bemidji, who always applies a lot of pressure and makes it tough to get to their net”, said Frost.
The Bemidji State Beavers in years past have been a “trap” team for the Gophers, making games closer than they should on paper and even beating the more talented Minnesota team on occasion. Don’t be surprised if the matches on Friday and Saturday at Ridder Arena will be tight contests.