The Gophers women’s hockey team will attempt to add to its 61-game record winning streak this weekend against a North Dakota team that has plenty of motivation, not to mention talent.
UND brings an 8-1-1 record into the Saturday and Sunday games at Ridder Arena (2 :07 p.m. both days), and the last time the two teams met Minnesota escaped with a triple-overtime victory in last season’s NCAA regional.
UND coach Brian Idalski says his team’s motivation this weekend isn’t based on ending the streak. In fact, he says he won’t mention it to his players this week.
“If [ending the streak] is what motivates us to play, it doesn’t say much about our organization, or where we’re headed,” Idalski said. “For us, we’re talking about process, about execution, about doing the things we need to do to get better for the long haul, not just this weekend. This weekend is not going to define us.”
Not that UND wouldn’t relish ending the streak.
“We obviously want to win, that comes first,” said UND senior Michelle Karvinen. “Ending their streak would be like a bonus.”
Gophers coach Brad Frost and his players readily admit the winning streak — the longest in Division I hockey history for a men’s or women’s program — brings increased pressure. Frost calls the pressure “a privilege,” and says he tries to neutralize it by getting his players to focus “on the process of how to win hockey games.”
“Our goal is every single night to just go out and win a hockey game, and focus on the process of winning that game,” Frost said.
The top-ranked Gophers (12-0) appear to have embraced the challenge the streak offers.
“I think every team coming in wants to be the team [that ends the streak],” Gophers senior co-captain Baylee Gillanders said. “I think we’re all excited to play North Dakota again, because it’s always a competitive series. I think it will be a big test for our team, to prepare well for two tough games. I think it’s going to be fun.’’