With a short turnaround and an hour and a half bus ride in between, the Minnesota women’s hockey team will look to stay perfect on the season with a home-and-home series against Minnesota State this weekend. The Golden Gophers (8-0-0, 6-0-0) will play two against the Mavericks (3-5-0, 0-4-0) between Minneapolis Friday night and Mankato on Saturday afternoon.
The weekend series will be the first of two home-and-home match-ups between the Gophers and the Mavericks, with the second taking place in January as the opening act to the Hockey City Classic. Minnesota outscored Minnesota State a combined 26-2 in their four regular season meetings last year.
Both teams are different in make-up this season as the Mavericks are considerably older, while the Gophers have plenty of fresh faces. Minnesota State boasts 10 seniors on their roster, including goaltender Danielle Butters, who has started all eight games on the season for the club.
Five of the top seven scorers for the Mavericks are seniors, including their top four overall. Leading the way in scoring for their team is Kathleen Rogan, a Shattuck-St. Mary’s alumnae hailing from Vancouver. She has five goals and four assists in eight games, with three of her goals coming on the power play.
As the younger team, Minnesota has only two seniors in the top nine overall in scoring. The Maroon and Gold have benefited early with solid play from a mix of players young and old. Each weekend has provided its own storyline as to who the breakout performer has been.
Sophomore Hannah Brandt was one of the offensive stars of last week’s sweep of Bemidji State University. The Vadnais Heights, Minn. native recorded two goals and one assist in Sunday’s 4-3 road victory.
Minnesota would be hard pressed to not come away from the weekend with a sweep against the Mavericks. Minnesota State has scored just four goals in four Western Collegiate Hockey Association games — they have allowed 17 goals in those four losses.
Game No. 1 of the series is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. CT at Ridder Arena on Friday evening with a Saturday matinee scheduled for 3:07 p.m. in Mankato. The hour and a half bus ride down U.S. Highway 169 should split convincing wins for the No. 1 team in the country.
Prediction: Friday — Golden Gophers 7, Mavericks 1. Saturday — Minnesota 5, Minnesota State 0.