By Jacob Messing
When the 2-10-0 St. Cloud State Huskies visit Minneapolis this weekend, they’ll be crashing head-first into a veritable steam engine train. The Minnesota Golden Gophers are not only ranked in the top 10, posting a 9-4-1 record over the year, but the hosts are also riding on the fuel of two consecutive series sweeps.
FloHockey will stream the battle live when the puck drops for the first game, Friday at 7 PM EST, and the second game, Saturday at 5 PM.
The Gophers are looking to build on their current four-game winning streak against the Huskies, a matchup in which they hold nearly every advantage.
The Huskies’ one chance for an upset is hoping the Gophers continue to underwhelm on home ice. While Minnesota boasts a perfect 8-0-0 away record, they’re just 1-4-1 at Ridder Arena this season.
St. Cloud is still just 1-5-0 on the road, however, meaning an upset for Eric Rud’s Huskies is nothing more than a sliver of hope, especially given the Gophers’ depth.
On The Attack
Grace Zumwinkle and Caitlin Reilly lead the Gophers offense and have combined for 30 points on the year, just one fewer than the entire St. Cloud team.
In fact, 11 Gophers have more points than Huskies’ leading scorer Laura Kluge’s six. Kluge’s two goals are second on the team behind leader Julia Tylke, who has five. Only six different Huskies have recorded a goal this season; the team is averaging exactly one goal over their first twelve games.
Moreover, of the 16 Gophers who’ve played in all 14 games, only two are without a goal. They’re also averaging 3.43 goals per game and getting more contribution throughout the lineup.
Freshman Taylor Wente is among those new contributors.
Wente put up three goals over her first 10 games, but has broken out during the four-game winning streak with another three goals and three assists, bringing her totals to six goals and nine points.
Wente’s hot streak adds to the offensive weapons at coach Brad Frost’s disposal; she’s another player the Huskies will need to contain this weekend.
The Defensive Zone
Among the Gophers leading scorers are defensemen Sydney Baldwin (2 G, 12 A, 14 pts.) and Patti Marshall (1 G, 10 A, 11 pts.), who sit at third and fifth in team scoring, respectively.
Their offensive inclination doesn’t mask any defensive liabilities, because they have none. Unlike many potent blue liners, Baldwin and Marshall are steady in their own end and often see the other team’s top players.
On the other side, sophomore Abby Thiessen and freshman Hannah Bates lead the Huskies blue line. They are the future of the team, as seniors Emma Turbyville and Brittney Anderson are the only two upperclassmen on the backend.
In the crease, Minnesota has started to transition the team to freshman Alex Gulstene, with senior Sidney Peters in her last season. The two have shared starts and have been equally as successful.
Gulstene has a 4-1-1 record with a .918 save percentage and 1.94 goals against average through seven starts, compared to Peters’ 5-3-0 record, .910 SV percentage and 2.28 GAA.
The Huskies have also split their starts between sophomore Janine Alder (1-6-0) and freshman Emma Polusny (1-4-0).
While they sport similar records, Alder has been the better netminder with a .931 SV percentage and 2.42 GAA, compared to Polusny’s .897 SV percentage and 3.25 GAA. Alder has been held back by the struggling offense, which has previously been mentioned for its lack of goal-scoring.
Don’t forget to tune in this weekend, Friday at 7 PM EST and Saturday at 5 PM, right here on FloHockey.
Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.