Weekend Preview: No. 2 Minnesota Hosts No. 5 North Dakota to Finish Regular Season

Go Gophers! Rachael Bona scored two goals at Ohio State last weekend
Go Gophers!
Rachael Bona scored two goals at Ohio State last weekend
Go Gophers!

Feb. 16, 2012

Minnesota Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

This Weekend
After three weeks on the road, the Gophers return to the friendly confines of Ridder Arena to finish up the regular season with a pair of games against North Dakota. Friday's game will begin at 6:07 p.m., while Saturday's game is slated for  4:07 puck drop.

Promotions
Gopher women's hockey will be celebrating Fan Appreciation Weekend by offering $1 tickets to all fans this weekend.
    On Friday, the Gophers will host Student Night. U of M students get free admission and free pizza when they show their U Card.

Senior Night
Minnesota will honor the seven members of its senior class before the game on Saturday afternoon. Minnesota's senior class consists of Sarah Erickson, Alyssa Grogan, Nikki Ludwigson, Anne Schleper, Jen Schoullis, Kelly Seeler and Emily West.

Follow Online
Gophersports.com will carry a free radio broadcast and live blog for both games this weekend. Both games will be covered live with a video webcast available to Gopher All Access subscribers.

National Rankings
Minnesota is listed at No. 2 in the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls. The Gophers received one first-place vote in the USCHO.com poll. North Dakota is ranked No. 5 in the USCHO.com poll, and No. 6 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll.
    In the Pairwise rankings, Minnesota is listed No. 3, with North Dakota tied for No. 6.

WCHA First Round
With the wins at St. Cloud State Feb. 2-3, the Gophers have secured home ice advantage for the WCHA First Round playoff games Feb. 24-26. The first round will consist of a best-of-three series. Game times will be 7:07 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, 4:07 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 and 4:07 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26 (if needed).

WCHA Honors
Two Gopher women's hockey players received honors from the WCHA this week. Senior Anne Schleper has been named the Co-Defensive Player of the Week, sharing the honor with Bemidji State's Zuzana Tomcikova, while freshman defenseman Rachel Ramsey has been named the Rookie of the Week.
    Schleper contributed four scoring points in Minnesota's road wins over Ohio State last weekend, fired 10 shots on goal, blocked four shots and earned a +5 plus/minus rating. She had a goal and an assist in the second period in the series opener last Friday (Feb. 10) along with two blocked shots, and then added two more assists in game two last Saturday (Feb. 11), including one on teammate Sarah Davis' second period shorthander that gave the Gophers a two-goal cushion at 4-2. In addition, she also played a key role on special teams, as UM's penalty-killers held OSU to two goals on 13 power-play chances. With her three assists, Schleper moved up to second place on Minnesota's all-time assists list for defensemen with 79.
    Ramsey collected three points in the two wins against Ohio State in Columbus. In last Friday's 5-0 victory, had two assists, two blocked shots and a plus/minus rating of +3. She then added another assist in last Saturday's 7-4 triumph, along with two shots on goal. Playing in all 32 of Minnesota's games as a rookie, Ramsey has 20 points (4g, 16a) this season and ranks first in scoring among first-year defenseman in the WCHA.

Staying Out of the Box
Minnesota averages the second-fewest penalty minutes per game among WCHA teams, with an average of just 9.7. That number is down significantly compared to last season when the Gophers averaged 12.47 penalty minutes per game.

Strong Defense
Minnesota is tied the fewest number of goals allowed in WCHA play, with just 45 goals allowed this season. Wisconsin also has 45 goals allowed in 2011-12. Minnesota is tied with Wisconsin for first in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of 1.41 goals per game.
    This week's opponent, North Dakota, has allowed 76 goals this season, ranking fifth in the WCHA and 20th in the NCAA in scoring defense.


Special Teams
Minnesota scored four power play goals at Ohio State last weekend, giving the team a 26.0 percent power play efficiency for the season (40-154). The Gophers rank first in the WCHA and third nationally in power play efficiency.
    The Gophers are second in the conference and third nationally on the penalty kill, successfully killing 111 of 126 penalties this season (88.1 percent). The Gophers gave up two power play goals to the Buckeyes last weekend, but also scored two shorthanded goals.  

Bozek Leads the Way
Junior defenseman Megan Bozek ranks first nationally in scoring by defensemen with 35 points on the season. Among WCHA defensemen, Bozek has seven more points than her closest competitor. She is one of three defensemen in the nation in double figures for goals, with a nation-leading 12 goals on the season.
    
Moving Up the Ranks
After adding three points at Ohio State last weekend, MeganBozek has 82 career points and moved up to fifth place on the Minnesota all-time scoring list for defensemen, passing Melanie Gagnon (81 points, 2005-09). Bozek is tied with Brittny Ralph (1997-99) for fourth in Gopher history in goals by a defenseman with 24.

Top Scorers
Both Amanda Kessel and Jen Schoullis rank among the top scorers in the WCHA. Kessel ranks fourth in the WCHA and fifth nationally in points with 63 (1.97 per game). Schoullis ranks seventh in the NCAA and 13th nationally in points with 54 (1.74 per game). Both players rank among the top 10 goal scorers and assist scorers in the WCHA.

Offensive Defensemen
Minnesota has three defensemen who rank among the top 10 in the WCHA in scoring by defensemen. Junior Megan Bozek leads the conference with 35 points (1.09 per game). Senior Anne Schleper is fourth with 25 points (0.78 per game), and freshman Rachel Ramsey is seventh with 20 points (0.62).

Raty Ties Season Win Record
With the two wins against Ohio State last weekend, junior goalie Noora Räty reached 25 wins for the season. The mark tied her own school record for wins in a season, originally set in her sophomore season (2010-11).
    Räty set the school record for career shutouts when she got her 22nd at St. Cloud State on Feb. 4. She added a shutout at Ohio State (Feb. 10), and currently has 23 in her career and seven this season.

About North Dakota
North Dakota is 19-9-3 overall and 15-8-3 in WCHA games this season. UND sits in third place in the WCHA standings with 50 points, 13 points behind the second-place Gophers.
    Jocelyne Lamoureux  is the top scorer for UND and tops in the WCHA with 77 points on 31 goals and 46 assists. Monique Lamoureux-Kolls is second for the team and tied for second in the WCHA with 66 points (25 goals and 41 assists).
    North Dakota ranks first in the league in scoring offense  at 4.68 goals per game (145 goals). On the defensive end, UND is fifth in the WCHA in scoring defense, allowing 2.45 goals per game (76 goals).
    UND is led by Brian Idalski, in his fifth season with the team. His career record is 172-110-31.

The Series against North Dakota
Minnesota holds a lopsided 30-4 all-time record against North Dakota, but has not fared well against UND in recent meetings as all four of North Dakota's wins have come in the past two years. Earlier this season, the Gophers won the first game in Grand Forks by a 7-2 margin, but lost 3-0 in the second game of the series. The 3-0 loss on Dec. 3 is the only shutout loss for the Gophers this season. In the 2010-11 season, UND took three of four games against the Gophers, including both games played in Minneapolis.

West Returns
Senior forward Emily West was injured in last Friday's game at Ohio State, and sat out during last Saturday's 7-4 win against the Buckeyes. She should return to the line up this weekend.


Home Sweet Home
The Gophers are 14-0-2 at home in Ridder Arena this season, including a perfect 12-0-0 mark in the first half of the season.
    Minnesota is 12-4 on the road this season, splitting at Wisconsin, Bemidji State, North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth, while earning series sweeps at Harvard, Minnesota State, St. Cloud State and Ohio State.

Fans in the Stands
The Gophers had a weekend attendance of 5,220 against Wisconsin Jan. 6-7, with 2,554 fans at Ridder for Friday's game and 2,666 fans in attendance on Saturday. Both figures rank among the top 10 all-time attendance numbers for Ridder Arena.
    The Gophers have an average home attendance of 1,274 this season, up 47 percent from the attendance average of 864 at this point last season. This season, the Gophers have had five home games with crowds of 1,500 and over. Minnesota did not draw any crowds of 1,500-plus last season.

Coaching the Gophers
Brad Frost returns for his fifth season as the Golden Gophers' head coach, his 12th season overall with the Minnesota program. Frost started as an assistant coach in the 2000-01 season and was elevated to associate head coach following the 2005-06 season. He was named the interim head coach in summer of 2007, and was officially named the head coach of the Gophers following the 2007-08 campaign. Frost holds a career coaching record of  137-35-16 (.771).

Up Next
Minnesota will host the WCHA  First Round Feb. 24-26 at Ridder Arena. The first round will consist of a best-of-three series. Game times will be 7:07 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, 4:07 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 and 4:07 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26 (if needed). The Gophers' opponent is still to be determined.