Minnesota tops Boston U. for first perfect season in NCAA women's hockey history
MINNEAPOLIS -- Thanks to a balanced offensive attack, Minnesota (41-0-0) successfully defended its 2012 national title and put the finishing touches on the first perfect season in NCAA women's ice hockey history with a 6-3 victory against Boston University in Minneapolis on Sunday.
Winning its fourth championship in program history, the Golden Gophers became the first college hockey team to complete its campaign without a blemish since Cornell's men's squad did so in 1970 (29-0).
The Gophers extended their NCAA-record winning streak to 49 games, dating to Feb. 18, 2012. The victory also gave the WCHA its 13th consecutive NCAA title.
Minnesota opened the scoring 11:38 into regulation and never looked back.
The game's first quality chance came when BU forward Sarah Lefort blocked a Baylee Gillanders point shot at the 5:40 mark and raced in for a breakaway, but Gopher goaltender Noora Räty reached out for a blocker save to keep the gave scoreless.
BU netminder Kerrin Sperry made an equally impressive save with 8:36 left in the period, diving across the blue paint to keep a Minnesota power-play chance out, but the Gophers seized the lead just 14 seconds later when a Mira Jalosuo one-timer from the left circle zipped through Sperry's five-hole.
With 1:28 to play in the opening period, the Gophers cushioned their lead when Sperry kicked an Amanda Kessel shorthanded offering to the corner, but Hannah Brandt gathered the puck and flung a shot from behind the cage off Sperry's skate and in. The Terriers answered tight back, though, as a Lefort backhand rebound from just outside the goalmouth found the back of the net 16 seconds later, making it 2-1 after 20 minutes.
The scoring chances were fewer and more far between in the middle period until 2012-13 Patty Kazmaier Award winner Kessel reestablished the two-goal lead for host Minnesota. Maryanne Menefee drove up the right wing into the Terrier zone with just under four minutes to go in the period and curled toward the boards before laying the puck off to Kessel, who slapped a quick shot past Sperry inside the left post.
Just fewer than 90 ticks later, Janelle Kohanchuk had the opportunity to give BU another quick response, but Räty stretched across the crease to rob the Terrier senior's one-time chance from in tight.
Räty's big save kept the momentum in the Gophers' favor and with 11.8 seconds left in the period, Minnesota capitalized again on the power play to extend its lead. Menefee earned the primary helper once again, sliding a pass through the BU defense to Milica McMillen, who bombed a one-time blast past Sperry to make it a three-goal game heading into the second intermission.
Boston University drew closer with a tally on the man advantage early in the third period, but Menefee found Rachel Ramsey on the backdoor with 4:33 to seal the win. Kessel notched her 100th point of the season with an assist on the play. The Terriers scored again to make it 5-3, but Kessel capped the scoring with an empty-net goal.
Räty, Kessel, Brandt, Poulin, McMillen and Megan Bozek were named to the all-tournament team as Räty garnered Most Outstanding Players honors with 46 saves on the weekend.
Boston University finished the season 28-6-3 as Minnesota became the third Frozen Four host to win the national championship.