Gophers sweep No. 1 Wisconsin

Minnesota has defeated rival Wisconsin in 13 consecutive games.

Grant Donald

Less than a week after losing the No. 1 ranking in the nation to rival Wisconsin, the Gophers made a serious statement by taking back the top spot with a road sweep of the Badgers.

Minnesota followed up a 4-1 victory Friday with a 2-1 overtime comeback victory Saturday and has now won the last 13 meetings between the two powerhouses.

On Saturday, senior forward Rachael Bona scored the tying goal with just 1:28 remaining in the third period. Fellow senior Rachel Ramsey scored the game-winning goal and sealed the victory with a minute remaining in overtime.

“This was a really exciting win for us,” Bona said. “It was actually a little release to have someone else take over the No. 1 spot, and it kind of put a chip on our shoulder to get it back. And this weekend, we proved that we are still the No. 1 team in the country.”

Bona’s game-tying goal was her first goal of the season, something that was overdue after she tallied 23 goals last year.

“[Finally scoring] was a release, to be honest,” Bona said. “As a player, I think it starts to get to you. You’ve been used to scoring and then you just haven’t scored in a few games, but I’m just glad it came at the time it came.”

Before the weekend, Wisconsin was averaging five goals per game and featured one of the best attacks in the nation.

That didn’t intimidate the Gophers, however, as they bolster one of the best blue lines in the country. They were able to limit the Badgers to just two goals over the weekend.

Junior goaltender Amanda Leveille made 63 saves over the weekend, including a career-high 40 saves in Saturday’s overtime victory.

“Our team defense was great, in particular [Friday],” head coach Brad Frost said. “We gave up a lot more shots [Saturday], and when that happens, your goalie has to be lights-out. And the only goal they got was a tough rebound, so aside from that, [Leveille] played extremely solid.”

On Friday night, sophomore forward Dani Cameranesi led the Gophers with a natural hat trick.

The Plymouth, Minn., native has been on a tear already, as she has recorded 10 points this season. She is tied for fourth in the nation in scoring.

Cameranesi scored with one second left in the first period to give the Gophers a 3-1 lead, which was devastating for the top-ranked Badgers.

“Our kids showed great character, guts and heart to stick with the play and get those late goals,” Frost said.

While this weekend may have been the statement the team needed to make after falling in the polls, the Gophers have another tough test next weekend.

“It was a fantastic weekend, and it was one that we will probably remember for the rest of the year, but we will definitely remain hungry for success against North Dakota next weekend,” Ramsey said.