Here we go.
When you think of women’s college hockey, what programs come to mind? I’d think that the Minnesota Golden Gophers are amongst the first 3 teams you thought of. They have been the gold standard in women’s hockey for some time, with 6 national titles, including four in five years from 2012 to 2016, as well as a perfect season in 2012-13. Only once this decade have they missed the NCAA tournament. This series, the final out-of-conference series of the season, is a measuring stick to see where the UVM program is at.
Good news for the Cats: Even though the Gophers are 16-5-2 and a top team in the nation, they’ve struggled a bit at Ridder Arena, with a “meh” 6-5-2 record. Admittedly, 3 of those losses were to ranked Wisconsin and Ohio State, but the other two came at the hands of Merrimack, a team UVM’s already beaten, and a .500 Bemidji State.
The goaltending save percentage numbers for the Gopher goalies are both somewhat low (Sidney Peters has a .916, and backup Alex Gulstene has a .904), but there’s a reason for that – they don’t face a lot of shots. On average, Minnesota gives up 23.1 shots per game. They’re solid enough goalies in their own right, but I’m not sure one would call them elite.
In terms of skaters, this is not a team that relies on one great player. They do score goals – 7th most in the nation outside of that weird independent scheduling alliance, despite none of their top 6 scorers last season playing this year – but they rely on their ability to roll four lines. Twelve players have at least double digit points, led by Grace Zumwinkle’s 26. Last season they did have Sarah Potomak and Kelly Pannek, but both are missing the season due to centralization. They get a lot of shots – an average of 30 a game – and they have a very young, hungry group of players. UVM has shown that they can compete with these kinds of teams, but on the road after a flight to Minneapolis is going to be a difficult, difficult series.
Games are Friday at 8pm and Saturday at 6pm. Stuck behind a paywall. Blech.