All-division preview: Gophers look to copy early season results vs. Badgers
All eyes will turn to the showdown in the Western College Hockey Association this weekend as top-ranked Minnesota (28-1-1, 22-1-1-0 WCHA) travels to No. 2 Wisconsin (23-3-2, 19-3-2-1 WCHA) for a two-game series starting Friday.
This series has been one-sided recently with the Gophers winning the past eight meetings and are 37-26-8 all time against the Badgers.
The first meeting this season was a 2-1 Gopher win on Oct. 11. Amanda Leveille made 34 saves and Milica McMillen broke a 1-1 tie when she scored the game winner on the power play midway through the third period. The following night, the Gophers earned the series sweep with a 2-0 win behind two goals from Kelly Terry and 31 saves from Leveille in her first shutout of the season.
Wisconsin (23-3-2, 19-3-2-1 WCHA) enters this weekend’s series on a seven-game winning streak. Most recently, the Badgers swept Ohio State on the road last weekend, picking up 3-0 and 3-2 victories. UW’s last loss was a 4-1 decision against North Dakota in Madison on Jan. 11.
Senior Brittany Ammerman leads the Badgers with 37 points (20 goals and 17 assists), and junior Blayre Turnbull has also hit the 30-point mark with 13 goals and 17 assists. Wisconsin averages 3.32 goals per game. Ammerman’s 0.71 goals per game is the best in the WCHA and ranks sixth in the nation.
The Badgers own two of the nation’s top goaltenders in senior Alex Rigsby and freshman Ann-Renée Desbiens. Rigsby is 13-2-2 and leads the nation with a 0.96 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage. Desbiens is 10-1-0 overall and ranks second to Rigsby with a 1.07 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage. Wisconsin’s defense leads the nation, allowing 1.00 goals per game in 28 games.
Minnesota swept Bemidji State at home last weekend, earning a 10-0 shutout win before picking up a 5-3 victory in the series finale. Hannah Brandt (four goals, one assist), Rachael Bona (three goals, two assists), Sarah Davis (two goals, three assists) and Milica McMillen (five assists) led the Gophers with five points each against the Beavers.
Robert Morris looks to snap its season-long winless streak (three) in its final road trip against Rochester Institute. ... Cornell has won 20 of its 21 games all-time agains Union (N.Y.). ... Clarkson is 9-0-3 in its past 12 games, which gives the Golden Knights the second-longest unbeaten streak in the nation. ... Harvard is unbeaten (15-0-2) when scoring first this season. ... North Dakota needs just one point against Minnesota State-Mankato this weekend to clinch home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. ...Mercyhurst has outscored its opponents 20-9 in its five-game winning streak headed into its game against Penn State.
Lisa Marshall had the hot glove last weekend, making a total of 93 saves for Elmira in two games (one win, one loss) against No. 1 Plattsburgh.State. ... Wisconsin-Stevens Point has scored 14 goals in its past three games, all wins, after scoring four goals in the prior three games. ... Wisconsin-Superior leads the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference by allowing 1.45 goals per game. ... Plattsburgh State plays its final four games on the road, starting on Saturday against Chatham.