No. 1 Gophers add unbeaten record to dream season

The Gophers broke Wisconsin’s NCAA record of 32 straight games without a loss this weekend with a sweep of the Badgers.

by Megan Ryan

The Gophers women’s hockey team swept Wisconsin this weekend in Madison, Wis., and earned two more spots in the NCAA Division I record book.

Minnesota beat the Badgers 2-0 on Friday to break Wisconsin’s unbeaten record of 32 games. Minnesota won 5-1 Sunday, helping senior goaltender Noora Räty match the record for most victories in a career.

It marks the Gophers’ first season sweep of the Badgers since the 1999-2000 season and their first road sweep since 2003-04.

“It was just a tremendous weekend,” head coach Brad Frost said. “They continue to impress me.”

With the unbeaten record hanging in the balance Friday, the Gophers managed two first-period goals. The two teams were held scoreless the rest of the way.

Freshman forward Hannah Brandt slipped the puck through the five-hole at the 4:28 mark after assists from freshman forward Maryanne Menefee and junior forward Amanda Kessel.

“Going strong right away and getting the first goal is huge to take the crowd out of the game,” Brandt said, “especially in that rink.”

With two minutes left in the period, senior defender Mira Jalosuo shot the puck over junior goaltender Alex Rigsby’s shoulder during a two-man advantage. Junior forward Sarah Davis and sophomore defender Rachel Ramsey assisted on the goal.

Räty made 25 saves Friday on her way to tying the career wins record.

“I haven’t had much success against Wisconsin,” Räty said. “I think Friday’s game might have been one of my best games here.”

Sunday’s score line may have hinted at a more free-flowing game, but Frost said both teams played with the same intensity as Friday.

“The scores were very different, but the games were not that different,” Frost said.

Senior forward Becky Kortum scored an unassisted goal seven minutes into the first period when she stole a pass from a Badgers defender and flung the puck into the top shelf.

Wisconsin answered five minutes later when junior forward Madison Packer scored on a power play.

Minnesota scored its own power-play goal at the 16:31 mark. Brandt converted a rebound off senior defender Megan Bozek’s shot.

Up 2-1, the Gophers extended their lead at the 3:41 mark of the second period. Junior forward Kelly Terry popped the puck over Rigsby’s shoulder after an assist from Kortum.

While the Badgers challenged Räty in the third period with nine shots on goal, the Gophers solidified their lead. Brandt and Kessel assisted both Ramsey’s even-strength goal and Bozek’s power-play goal, bringing the score to 5-1.

With the sweep, Räty equaled former Mercyhurst goaltender Hillary Pattenden’s Division I record of 100 career wins.

But Räty was never too concerned about reaching the record.

“I kind of knew that I was going to get it sooner or later,” Räty said.”

The Gophers face Minnesota-Duluth next Friday and Saturday at Ridder Arena.