Saturday morning reading: Women’s NCAAs

Ten years ago, the Sioux women’s hockey program was born. Leaders had visions of bringing this team on par with the men’s as one of the top programs in college hockey.

It went through its ups and downs, some good times and a lot of bad ones, too. But this afternoon, the Sioux women can take one big leap in staking itself on the map in the college hockey world. They are playing rival Minnesota at 4 p.m. (webcast link — possibly free — at gophersports.com) with a berth to the NCAA Frozen Four on the line.

In the past, this matchup would have been dreaded by UND, which lost its first 28 games to the Gophers. But since hiring assistant coach Erik Fabian — a guy who killed the Gophers during his playing career — fortunes have turned. Read about that here. Fabian has a unique perspective on today’s game.

Minnesota has dominated at home this season, going 17-1-2. But the Gophers are well aware of who handed them that only home loss of the season.

In fact, the Gophers have lost just 4 times in the last 53 games in Ridder Arena. Three of them have come at the hands of the Sioux.

If UND is going to win, it needs to find a way to beat goalie Noora Raty, who Gopher coach Brad Frost believes is the best in the nation. You probably won’t hear many people argue. Raty enters the weekend with back-to-back-to-back shutouts in her pocket. She hasn’t allowed a goal in over 200 minutes.

The Gophers, coming off of a WCHA playoff title, say they are playing their best hockey of the season right now. Also tough to argue. They are 13-1-1 in their last 15 games. The only loss was in overtime — to UND in Ridder Arena.

Some UND seniors, like Sara Dagenais, pondered whether their college careers were over last weekend on the bus ride home from Duluth. But now, they are getting a second shot against the same opponent. Read more about that in this Herald story and preview.

And incase you didn’t see it earlier this week, UND junior Jocelyne Lamoureux is one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which will be handed out next Saturday in Duluth. Lamoureux wants her teammates to be there, too (site of Frozen Four).

UND’s Matt Schill is keeping a travel blog here.

For those who plan on attending the game, there’s a pregame party at Stub and Herbs from 2-3:30 p.m. The game is NOT televised, but it is on the radio. Darrin Looker is making the trip to Ridder to call the game on 1440 AM The Fan (which means he won’t be doing PA at the men’s game tonight).

Wayne Nelson is in the Cities for the Herald and will be providing full coverage. Check that out in Sunday’s Herald.

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