Gophers shut out UMD to win WCHA tournament

Noora Räty was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after her third consecutive shutout.

Gophers sophomore Kelly Terry handles a puck during a game against North Dakota Feb. 18 at Ridder Arena.

Anthony Kwan, Daily File Photo

Gophers sophomore Kelly Terry handles a puck during a game against North Dakota Feb. 18 at Ridder Arena.

Samuel Gordon

DULUTH, Minn. — Two years ago, Minnesota had to watch Minnesota-Duluth celebrate a WCHA Championship victory.

To make matters worse, the Gophers lost the tournament final at Ridder Arena, their home rink.

Well, you know what they say about payback.

Minnesota triumphed over UMD 2-0 at Amsoil Arena on Saturday to claim its first tournament crown since 2005. Gophers goaltender Noora Räty,  the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, made 28 saves in her third consecutive shutout. Emily West’s power-play goal in the second period proved to be the game-winner.

“It’s been seven long years since a Gopher team has won the WCHA tournament championship,” Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said. “I know that was a huge goal of our players and obviously our program, each and every year.”

Both teams flew out of the gate, high in energy and focus as a result of the intensity of the WCHA Championship. The Gophers had some chances early on, but Bulldogs goalie Jennifer Harss dominated the crease.

Harss was sensational early and often, saving 14 shots in the first period and 34 in the game.

UMD had its first-period chances, too. But Räty didn’t let anything get behind her.

“I think the toughest saves were in the first period,” she said. “They had a couple backdoor plays. I think I played biggest in the first.”

A minute into the second, Bulldogs defender Tea Villila tripped West on a breakaway and allowed her a penalty shot, but Harss rose to the occasion and made the save.

West did light the lamp later, though. With time winding down in the frame, she took a pass from Rachel Ramsey near the top of the slot and squirted one past Harss.

“[Ramsey] made a great pass down, and I just happened to have a great screen by [Kelly Terry]” great screen,” West said. “[If she] wasn’t in front. It probably wouldn’t have gone in. She deserves an assist just as much as everyone else.”

UMD had plenty of opportunities in the third to tie the game, but Räty would have none of it. She made save after save down the stretch, many of the spectacular variety.

“[The Bulldogs] put everything to the net,” she said. “They got a couple rebounds, but our defense was there to help me.”

UMD swapped its goalie for an extra skater in the final minute and a half, but nothing was doing offensively. Megan Bozek tacked on an empty netter with just six seconds left to clinch the win.

Gophers players rushed and mobbed Räty in celebration as the final horn sounded.

“One of the hardest things was to watch them celebrate at our rink,” the junior goaltender said. “This is our payback time.”