No. 1 Minnesota breaks NCAA wins record in shutout of No. 8 Wisconsin
The stage was set for No. 1 Minnesota on Friday as they attempted to garner sole possession of the NCAA all-time unbeaten streak. The Golden Gophers were matched up against co-record holder and rival No. 8 Wisconsin. Two first-period goals were all the Gophers needed to defeat the Badgers and make history.
The Gophers' unprecedented mark of 33 consecutive wins dates back to Feb. 18, 2012 when the Maroon & Gold defeated North Dakota 5-2 at Ridder Arena. The streak led the Maroon & Gold to the 2012 national championship and has given them an unblemished record of 25-0-0 for the 2012-13 season.
It only took the Maroon & Gold 4:28 to claim a 1-0 lead as the team's top line skated to a three-on-two advantage. Freshman Maryanne Menefee carried the puck into the Wisconsin zone and attacked the net. As she drew a defenseman, the left winger dropped the puck back to junior Amanda Kessel, who made a quick pass across the face of the goal to freshman Hannah Brandt in the slot. Brandt drew back and slid the puck through the five hole of Wisconsin's goaltender Alex Rigsby to give Minnesota the early lead.
Brandt's go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal was her 24th of the season. Kessel and Menefee were credited with the assists.
Minnesota put the pressure on again late in the period by garnering a power play in the final minutes. A one-skater advantage turned into a two-skater advantage at 17:01 and remained that way for the next 62 seconds.
With one second remaining on the two-skater advantage, Minnesota aimed to get a quick shot off the ensuing faceoff. Junior Sarah Davis won the faceoff and had the puck slip back to sophomore Rachel Ramsey. Ramsey swung the puck to senior Mira Jalosuo at the opposite faceoff circle, where she one-timed a shot over Rigsby's shoulder.
The 2-0 lead held for the remainder of the period as the Gophers outshot Wisconsin 12-7.
Minnesota's attempt to escape the feared 2-0 lead was failed despite bombarding Rigsby with 15 shots on net. The Badgers only challenged Noora Raty five times in the period.
Raty, who has been in net for 31 of the games during the streak, made 25 saves in the game to garner her 36th career shutout and 99th career win. She is now just one win from tying the NCAA record for victories in a career (100, Hillary Pattenden).
In the final minutes of the game, Minnesota was called for back-to-back penalties, which allowed Wisconsin to produce 13 shots on net. Despite being shorthanded, the Gophers' defense executed their penalty kill for the final 3:27 to shut out the Badgers.