The Bulldogs were hoping to, as head coach Shannon Miller put it in her press conference a week ago, “defy gravity” and climb the standings with a couple wins over intrastate rival, University of Minnesota. Gravity proved to win out as the team was unable to get back on the winning side, adding a pair of losses to a now six-game winless streak. The team has scored three goals in twice as many games against WCHA heavy hitters, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
“We’re faced against some pretty talented teams, but we do have the talent,” senior captain Zoe Hickel said.
It was a slow start for the Bulldogs on Friday, as they let in two goals within 6:17 of puck drop.
The lone bright spot for the Bulldogs came a few minutes later, when UMD senior forward Meghan Huertas scored an unassisted goal. It was the only tally the Bulldogs recorded all weekend.
The Gophers answered back less than a minute later and didn’t let up from there as they took UMD down with a 7-1 final score. Saturday night would see more of the same as Minnesota dominated their way to a 2-0 win.
The Bulldogs have been unable to get results as they’ve gone winless without a shootout against Minnesota and their previous opponent, Wisconsin, in the last 23 games. Miller cited lack of funding as a reason for her team’s lack of success against the big name schools, as UMD doesn’t bring in the same revenue as the bigger universities in Madison and the Twin Cities.
Other teams with similar budget situations, such as Bemidji State, have fared much better against the Badgers and Gophers. The Beavers beat Wisconsin 2-1 in mid-January and went 1-0-1 against Minnesota in their series against them early this season.
Despite her team’s inability to produce the same results, Miller said that she believes her team is a model for teams like Bemidji State.
“I would say that Bemidji looks to us for inspiration,” Miller said. “We’ve been leading the way and showing that we can compete with those schools and beat them.”
If UMD moves on to the WCHA Frozen Faceoff at the end of the month, the team will likely get another crack at either Minnesota, Wisconsin or North Dakota for a chance at redemption.
“All we can do is learn from our experiences, and don’t make the same mistakes twice,”
Hickel said. “Things tighten up at the end of the season. This weekend against Ohio we need to take care of business. It’s do or die for us at this point.”
BY NICOLE BRODZIK