This past weekend North Dakota’s women’s hockey team traveled to Ridder Arena to faceoff against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The weekend would be a test to see how close North Dakota is to challenging the Gophers in the potential post-season run.
It might be a little early to talk about the post-season, but after the weekend the Gophers remain an unbelievable 22-0-0. To add to that impressive stat, the last time Minnesota lost a game was February 17, 2012 (in overtime, against UND) – you read that correctly, nearly a year ago. If you were going to bet on who will win the NCAA Division I women’s hockey national championship, the easy bet would be the Gophers.
But enough about a team that doesn’t need anyone else tooting their own horn. Despite the 6-3 loss and being swept, the women in Green and White played one of their strongest games on Saturday afternoon.
North Dakota was able to hold a one-goal lead against the top-ranked team in the country for the first frame and lead or tied during the first 42 minutes of the game. The Gophers have held the lead against every team they’ve played this season except UND. Minnesota, in the same fashion they’ve shown all season, turned on the heat in the third period scoring three goals (one empty net).
If North Dakota (8-8-0) is going to play into the post-season they’re going to need to start winning games and the schedule isn’t going to lighten up playing in the WCHA. The Green and White will need their world-class offensive players to score and they will need secondary scoring with strong defense. The team has these components; Brian Idalski, head coach, just needs to figure out how to get the stars to align.
Although some North Dakota players might have walked away from Ridder Arena this weekend feeling the burn, they should take pride in the fact that they have what it takes to compete. If they play the way they did against Minnesota on Saturday afternoon, they should finish off the season strong.
North Dakota goes head-to-head with Wisconsin at home (7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday) this weekend. If you’re not headed to Mariucci for the men’s series and you don’t plan to be glued to your television, I suggest you head to The Ralph. What I’m certain you’ll see is a finesse game with world-class athletes. I would also guess that during intermission The Ralph might show the men’s game as they have in the past.