The Minnesota women's hockey team has been on a bit of a cold streak the past two weeks, winning only one of its last four games despite losing only twice up to that point in the season. The slump has dropped the team to its lowest ranking of the year, the No. 4 spot.
While the last two series have both presented foes that ranked inside the top-10, better results were expected from Minnesota, which spent much of the season ranked as the top team in the nation.
The lone game they won was very unexpected compared to the other results as the Gophers completely dominated Minnesota-Duluth 5-0 in the first game of the last weekend's series before falling to the Bulldogs the next night 2-0. The other two losses came against the best team in the country in the Wisconsin Badgers.
“We know there’s a long road ahead still,” said Gophers leading scorer Grace Zumwinkle. “Ever since winter break, as a team, we are more successful when we get out to an early lead. It makes Sydney [Scobee] feel more comfortable as well. Basically, more pressure on offense early helps us out every game."
Minnesota has been outscored 10-4 in its three losses, including being shut out twice.
Dealing with the recent scoring hardships is something new for a team who, for quite a long time, was on top of the NCAA rankings. Along with being ranked No. 4 in the country, they have also dropped into a tie for third in goals scored this season. As a team usually in the top two battling for supremacy with the Badgers, the Gophers now have to deal with being a bit more vulnerable at this point in the season.
“The adversity we are facing allows our players to either dig in or bury their heads in the sand. How we respond will say a lot about our mentality going forward," head coach Brad Frost said. "Will we be frustrated or continue with the status quo of our program? When you don’t score as prolifically as we’ve had in the past with some recent shutouts against hot goaltenders, you can go on cold stretches like we are on right now."
Up next the Gophers face off against a Bemidji State team that, according to Frost, has been able to sneak up on the Gophers in the past and upset them. Bemidji State barely missed out on the top-10 rankings this week and the team is very familiar with the Gophers style of play.
Yet earlier this season, the Beavers got demolished by the Gophers at Ridder Arena getting swept in the two-game series as Minnesota outscored them 10-1.
Still, Frost and the Gophers are not taking them lightly.
“It’s a tough place to play but I believe we can work harder than them to come out with a successful result," Frost said.