After a surprisingly rocky opening weekend, the Gophers women’s hockey team enters conference play focused on improving its defense.

The seven-time national champion Gophers lost their opening game last Friday, a 4-3 stunner to Merrimack at home. While they followed that with a 4-1 victory, the Gophers this week are eyeing better results this weekend at Ridder Arena against Ohio State.

“Our team is focused on what we can do better,” senior forward Caitlin Reilly said.

Coach Brad Frost wants his Gophers to raise all levels of defense, which he said will spring better offensive possessions.

Freshman Alex Gulstene stopped 16 of 17 shots for Minnesota in the second game vs. Merrimack.

Ohio State had little trouble in its opening weekend, sweeping nonconference foe Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 4-1 and 4-0. The Buckeyes were middle-of-the-pack finishers last season in the WCHA, going 7-16-5 in conference and 14-18-5 overall.

The Gophers went 3-0-1 against OSU last season, with the last game a 1-1 tie in late January at Ridder Arena. That draw extended Minnesota’s unbeaten streak against the Buckeyes to 44 games (41-0-3) dating to Oct. 20, 2007.

Ohio State is coached by Nadine Muzerall, a former Gophers player and assistant, and has seven Minnesotans on its roster.

Minnesota dropped a spot in the USCHO poll to No. 4. WCHA rival Wisconsin (4-0) is No. 1, followed by Clarkson and Boston College.