Overconfidence might be the Gophers' biggest obstacle when they face St. Cloud State this weekend at Ridder Arena in a first-round WCHA women's hockey playoff series. The best-of-three series begins on Friday, and it certainly appears to be a mismatch.
The No. 2-rated Gophers are 47-2-1 all-time against the Huskies. In four victories this season, the Gophers have outscored SCSU 29-1.
The Huskies, who finished seventh in the conference, are on a 10-game losing steak and were shut out in five of those losses. Their last victory was over Minnesota State, Mankato 3-1 on Jan. 14. The last time the Huskies won their first-round playoff series was 2008 when they beat Ohio State in three games.
The Gophers are coming off a split with North Dakota at Ridder this past weekend.
Scoring: Forwards Amanda Kessel and Jen Schoullis lead the Gophers in scoring and are fifth and seventh in the WCHA, respectively, in overall points. Kessel, a sophomore, has 26 goals and 41 assists for 67 points. Schoullis, a senior, has 22 goals and 33 assists for 55. The Huskies' top scoring threat is sophomore forward Molli Mott with nine goals and 13 points. Teammate Brittany Toor, a senior forward, has seven goals and a team-high 15 points.
Defense: At goalie, the U also has a big advantage. Junior Noora Raty has a school-record 26 victories. She is also second among WCHA goalies in all games with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. The Huskies have played two goalies, Julie Friend and Tayler VanDenakker, almost equally and both have at least a 4.5 goals-against average. The Gophers have given up the fewest goals (49) among WCHA teams this season.