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Gophers Return Home Atop Rankings Once More, Host UND

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Jim Rogash

Minnesota's stay at No. 2 didn't last long at all. After a tie at UMD, the Gophers (5-0-1, 3-0-1 WCHA) came into last weekend just behind then-No. 1 Wisconsin, but rebounded with a convincing 4-1 win Friday on a hat trick by Dani Cameranesi and a goal by Hannah Brandt. Saturday's game saw a great performance by Amanda Leveille in net and a lucky bounce in overtime, which turned into a goal by Rachel Ramsey.

Now, they're back home at Ridder Arena to face a familiar foe in North Dakota. UND (4-2-0, 3-1-0 WCHA) had its win streak broken by the Bulldogs last weekend but are still 3-1 in the WCHA, and while their offense might not equal Minnesota's, they have spread the wealth around a bit -- 15 different skaters have at least a point for UND. Becca Kohler leads the way with 10 (4 G, 6 A). On the back end, they have a terrific goaltender and strong defense, and their special teams are both top-three in the nation.

The Gophers' defense has struggled a little bit the last couple of weeks, providing key chances for both the Badgers and the Bulldogs, so they need to try to keep North Dakota's rushes to a minimum and stop the offense from getting started. Offensively, they'll need to get going as early as possible and make things difficult for North Dakota's blueline and Shelby Amsley-Benzie. While much of the firepower has been provided by Brandt and Cameranesi as far as forwards go, the blueline has also chipped in, with Ramsey, Milica McMillen and Lee Stecklein putting up points. Still, it'd be encouraging to see Bona get started after scoring the tying goal in last Saturday's game against UW.

The puck drops Friday night at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. Live audio is provided on GopherSports.com.

Women's Hockey Roundup:

  • My new CWHL crush, the Calgary Inferno, will be busy this weekend with three -- three! -- games at home against Montreal. The Inferno lit the lamp often in their opening game against Toronto (my other CWHL crush... oops) and will look to try and do the same against Charline Labonte and Catherine Herron. The Stars haven't quite gotten the offense started, being shutout in Boston, but Delayne Brian didn't exactly have the outing of her life against Toronto and didn't seem to be tested too much against Brampton, so we'll see. Two of the three games (Saturday's and Sunday's) will be streamed on cwhl.ca ($10 Canadian) and the Inferno also provide live audio for home games via their website.
  • Meanwhile, it's a cross-town rivalry as the Furies travel to Brampton Saturday. The Furies came away with the shootout win against Calgary and got as much great offense as they saw, with four different players (Tessa Bonhomme, Kristy Zamora, Natalie Spooner and Mallory Deluce) getting past Brian, and a fifth (Carolyne Prevost) scoring the lone shootout goal. Brampton's a young team in the midst of getting its footing, but needs to stay out of the box if it's going to have a chance to win against the Furies. This game won't be streamed, but look for live updates via the CWHL's website. For a full rundown of CWHL games (oh yeah, the Blades are also playing Harvard!), check out Watch This.
  • St. Cloud State beat Minnesota State 5-1 in last Friday's game, scoring three in the first period, and the teams tied Saturday, 1-1. Huskies D Audrey Hanmer was named Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts, coming out of the weekend with three points, 12 shots and a +2. This weekend, the Huskies are on a bye, while the Mavericks take on Mercyhurst in a non-conference matchup.
  • UMD split last weekend against North Dakota in a pair of low-scoring games, losing 2-1 Friday and winning 1-0 Saturday. This weekend, the Bulldogs will play Lindenwood for the first time in its history. Check out the live audio and video, provided via the Bulldogs' website.
  • Bemidji State is sadly no longer undefeated, being swept by Ohio State 5-1 and 1-0 last weekend. Still, a 4-2 record is nothing to sneeze at, and they open home play this weekend against Wisconsin with the eighth-ranked defense in the nation, allowing 1.50 goals per game, thanks to a strong defensive corps and two great goalies in Brittni Mowat and Erin Deters. This game will also have audio, so check it out if you like.
If you want to keep up with women's hockey more often than just once a week, check out my Twitter list featuring players, coaches, leagues, organizations, blogs and other media that cover the game.