We're just a few hours away from hockey! To preview the upcoming NCAA semifinal matchup with Minnesota we had a quick Q&A with Chris Hachfeld of The Daily Gopher. We answered some questions for them as well, so make sure you head over there to check it out.
The Daily Gopher: Coach Frost might ban me from Ridder for revealing this but...it's the hotdish. I mean, the insane amount of talent plays a role too, but there's just no substitute for a quality hotdish when it comes to winning hockey games.
Some people say a Jello salad is better, but those people are stupid. Since I can't talk about the specific recipe of this VICTORY HOTDISH, let's talk about the talented Gopher players instead. Don't worry, I'll keep it short.
- Amanda Kessel: 97pts/44g/53a; 2.77ppg/1.26gpg/1.51apg
- Hannah Brandt: 80pts/31g/49a; 2.05ppg/1.26apg
- Noora Räty: .959 save %, 0.88gaa
Maybe it isn't the hotdish...
BCI: Do you sense the pressure of the undefeated record has worn on Minnesota at all? It seems like their wins lately have been less dominating than they were earlier in the season.
TDG: I wouldn't say they've been less dominating. Lower scoring for Minnesota offensively perhaps, but still pretty dominating. Prior to triple OT thriller against UND last weekend, the Gophers were on a 6 game shutout streak. In their last 10 they've had 7 shutouts. That said, in that same stretch they've also played their only two 1 goal victories (serious, they've only won by 1 twice in 39 games), both of them OT victories. But I'd chalk that up to teams giving Minnesota their best shot plus a little bit an effect of familiarity (the 3OT game vs. UND was their sixth meeting this season).
BCI: What has happened in the games Minnesota has looked human in instead of dominating? How can the Gophers be beaten?
TDG: 1) Your goalie has to be dialed in. I mean, standing on her head the whole time. Last weekend's UND game could easily have been a 4-2 or 5-2 Gopher victory if Amsley-Benzie hadn't been just fantastic.
2) Disrupt Minnesota's flow. Minnesota doesn't like having to play dump and chase (must be something in the water...the men have the same issue) so disrupting their offense when they reach the offensive zone is big. When they're forced to play "ugly" hockey for a while, Minnesota sometimes starts to push too hard. This can result in bad passes and opportunities for their opponent.
3) Take chances going the other way. If you get Minnesota forcing things offensively, 2 on 1 opportunities will likely be there off long rebounds or Minnesota turnovers/pinching in. UND took advantage of this last week, with Räty stoning all but one of the multiple 2 on 1's that came her way.
BCI: How come Brown has a Beanpot and you don't?
TDG: We don't want to lower the value of our national title trophies by putting a Beanpot with it. /ducks
BCI: We know all about Amanda Kessel and her ridiculous season (her late-season injury notwithstanding) alongside freshman Hannah Brandt. But we know less about some of the lower lines. Are the Gophers the kind of team that will wear you down with top to bottom talent, or is the top line pretty much where they make their magic?
TDG: Yes and no. The #1 line has accounted for around 55% of the team's goals on the year. The #2 line is also stronger offensively. The #3 and #4 lines are very solid, but they're the sort of lines that take advantage of what you give them offensively versus taking it to you.
BCI: What were Minnesota's expectations going into this season? They were projected to be good, but surely no one saw a perfect season coming? On that note -- how disappointing would a loss in the tournament be given those preseason expectations? Or do things change now given the undefeated record?
TDG: I wouldn't say it was national title or bust, but winning another championship was certainly considered to be very attainable given the returning talent and the strong recruiting class that was coming in. A perfect season was never in the conversation though that's for sure. A loss at this point would be a HUGE disappointment but not because of the preseason expectations. Right now a loss would hurt badly because of the streak. The level of anticipation around being the first undefeated champion is high, especially among Gopher fans who aren't hardcore followers of the women.
TDG: If the Gophers are weak on the penalty kill or if they give BC too many power play chances I see this as a 1 goal game. A really bad performance on special teams could result in a loss for Minnesota, but I don't see that happening. I think the Gophers give BC some looks on the PP but kill all but one of them off while racking up at least 1 PP goal of their own. Call it a 3-1 Minnesota victory.
Be sure to head over to The Daily Gopher and follow follow them on twitter for coverage of Minnesota Hockey. BC takes on the Gophers tonight at 6pm EDT in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament. You can watch the game over at NCAA.com.