Rivalry weekend anticipates crowd

UND prepares for faceoff against No. 1 Minnesota in WCHA weekend matchup.

Junior forward Andrea Dalen carries the puck in last weekend’s series against Bemidji State. UND claimed a 1-1 tie and shootout victory Friday and won 2-1 Saturday. Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.

The last time North Dakota played Minnesota, it ended with the visiting team ending the Gophers’ 62-game win streak at Ridder Arena in November.

That remains Minnesota’s only loss this season.

The two teams will face off at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Friday and Saturday after a few months that paved the way for both teams to improve.

“Let’s be honest — it’s a rivalry weekend,” UND coach Brian Idalski said. “It has a little more to do with heart and grit and determination and compete than it does with some other things … When we have a big crowd that’s into it, obviously it’s going to be a big lift for our kids.”

In an effort to break attendance records, tickets for Friday’s game will be available for just $1, while student tickets remain free.

The games will have some added difficulty because of several missing players headed for the Olympics.

“Obviously, you feel like a proud parent to see your kids play in what is the pinnacle of women’s hockey and that’s the Olympics — being out at those games and competing at that level.” Idalski said. “The memories they’ll bring back and have for the rest of their lives is outstanding. To help them achieve that, that’s huge. For us to have six players this time around, that’s huge. That’s a nice compliment to our staff and our players and the work they put in.”

One of those players is Tanja Eisenschmid, who scored the game-winning goal for UND last Saturday against Bemidji State.

“Lisa (Marvin) went to the blue line, and then I called for the puck and she gave me a beautiful pass,” Eisenschmid said. “Then I just shot it on the short side and it went in. In the first period, we struggled a little bit, but we picked it up in the second period and when you score goals, you’re always confident and it motivates you. So that helped us a lot.”

UND’s focus quickly changed to this weekend’s series against the Gophers.

“They’re a very good team and they always give us a run for our money,” UND junior Tori Williams said. “We’re missing quite a few players coming into this series, but we’re just going to head into this series like any other series. I think communication is going to be key this weekend, and just taking care of our D-zone first and making sure that’s good before we transition to offense.”

With a strong record in the books already this season, Minnesota will prove to be a tough opponent.

“They’re a solid club and there’s a reason they’ve won as many games these past couple of years as they have,” Idalski said.

Faceoff this weekend is set for 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday evening at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Mariah Holland is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].