The Minnesota Golden Gophers' sweep of the Wisconsin Badgers resulted in history being made in both contests. A defeat of Wisconsin on January 25 resulted in the Golden Gophers setting the new NCAA record with a 33-game unbeaten streak.
Two days later, the Golden Gophers not only extended the streak with a 5-1 triumph, but Noora Raty tied Hillary Pattenden’s mark for most career NCAA goaltending wins. The 34-game unbeaten streak started on February 18, 2012 when they defeated the North Dakota Fighting Sioux by a 5-2 mark.
Heading into the January 25 contest, the Golden Gophers shared the record of 32 unbeaten games with the Wisconsin Badgers. It was ironic yet appropriate that the new record was set by defeating the co-record holders.
Super rookie Hannah Brandt scored the game-winning tally at the 4:28 mark of the first. In tallying her 24th goal of the year, Minnesota jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Assists went to fellow rookie Maryanne Menefee and to Amanda Kessel. In the preceding weekend, Amanda Kessel logged her 200th career point (in only her 99th career game) as Minnesota defeated Minnesota State by an 8-0 mark.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first frame, Mira Jalosuo scored on the power play to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead. It was all Minnesota would lead in the historic record-breaking win. Although Wisconsin peppered Raty with 35 shots, she was solid between the pipes as she earned her 36th career shutout.
After a day off, the two resumed their series on January 27 with 2273 fans in attendance at LaBahn Arena. Becky Kortum opened the scoring at 7:01 to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. With Rachel Bona serving an interference penalty (Minnesota’s second in the period), Madison Packer capitalized with a power-play marker to tie the score.
Before the period would end, Minnesota would reply with their own power-play goal. Wisconsin freshman Erika Sowchuk was called for tripping at 16:08. It would only take 23 seconds for Minnesota to score on the power play as Hannah Brandt earned her 25th goal of the season.
Heading into the second period, Wisconsin played a very stout defensive match. Although the Badgers were outshot, they successfully killed a penalty to Courtney Burke. The only goal was scored by Kelly Terry. Her seventh goal of the year came at 3:41 as she buried a shot over Wisconsin goaltender Alex Rigsby’s stick side.
Brandt and Kessel would connect in the third as both assisted on Rachel Ramsey’s goal at the 7:32 mark for a 4-1 advantage. With 2012 Patty Kazmaier Award winner Brianna Decker sitting in the penalty box for a slashing call, the Minnesota special teams were busy again.
Golden Gophers team captain Megan Bozek logged the third power-play goal of the game at the 11:09 mark. The 5-1 lead would stand as the final score. The sweep of Wisconsin improves Minnesota’s regular season mark in 2012-13 to a sparking 26-0-0.
Of note, Hannah Brandt won 15-of-22 faceoffs, while Kelly Terry won 10 of her faceoffs. Brandt logged one goal and two assists in the contest to give her 62 points on the season (25 goals, 37 assists). Kessel registered 3 assists, increasing her season point total to 75 (34 goals, 41 assists).
The defeat resulted in the first road sweep of Wisconsin since the 2003-04 campaign as Minnesota outshot the beleaguered Badgers by a 39-23 mark. It was Noora Raty's 100th career win, tying Hillary Pattenden’s NCAA record of 100 wins.
Raty will have the opportunity to break the record on February 1 against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. In addition, the Golden Gophers will clinch the Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular season title with the victory.
The strong performance of Brandt, Kessel and Raty would indicate that all three are strong candidates as finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award. Should all three become finalists, it would mark the first time that all the finalists were from the same school.
The Golden Gophers eight remaining games are against four WCHA opponents: Minnesota-Duluth, Ohio State, Bemidji State and St. Cloud State. The opportunity to finish the season with a 34-0-0 mark is very realistic as the maroon and gold attempt to claim their second consecutive NCAA Frozen Four championship.