Wednesday, 1 January 2014

North Dakota ending Minnesota Golden Gophers historic undefeated streak the moment of 2013

With a record-setting 62 consecutive wins, the Minnesota Golden Gophers revolutionized NCAA women’s hockey. During the memorable run, players such as Rachel Bona, Megan Bozek, Rachel Davis, Amanda Kessel, Noora Raty, Jen Schoullis and Kelly Terry helped carve a legacy that may never be matched again.

Just as all things must pass, so do must the memorable streak. Perhaps fittingly, the streak ended against a WCHA rival. The North Dakota Fighting Sioux, who met the Golden Gophers in the 2013 WCHA final and 2013 NCAA tournament, finally solved the maroon and gold in a match for the ages.

Having logged three goals in the first period, the 3,150 stunned fans at Ridder Arena saw the Golden Gophers face a three-goal deficit. Kayla Gardner opened the scoring at the 6:12 mark against sophomore Amanda Leveille. Freshman Gracen Hirschy added to the lead at 10:34 while Finnish national team member Susanna Tapani scored the third goal on the power play.

Just 1:50 into the second stanza, Rachel Ramsay would also score on the power play as the Golden Gophers were finally on the score board. Rachel Davis, who assisted on Ramsay’s goal, would log the Golden Gophers second power play tally of the period. Of note, Rachel Bona assisted on both power play goals as the Fighting Sioux’s lead was reduced to just one goal.

Despite the Golden Gophers’ best efforts, Lexie Shaw was unstoppable between the pipes in the final frame for the Fighting Sioux. A checking penalty to Johanna Fallman at 7:41 led to a Golden Gophers power play, but her valiant performance nullified the effort. Stopping 13 Golden Gophers’ shots, she preserved the historic victory. 

Considering Golden Gophers’ skaters Kelly Terry, Sarah Davis and Hannah Brandt all won the majority of their faceoffs, the defensive effort of the Fighting Sioux was the key to victory. Ironically the winning streak actually started against the Fighting Sioux on February 28, 2012. For Tapani, her first period goal stood as the game winner, providing her with a unique place in NCAA women’s hockey history.

Of note, the winning streak also surpassed the NCAA Division I men’s winning streak (30, set by both RPI and Cornell) and the unbeaten streak (38 by RPI). The previous winning streak in NCAA Division I women’s hockey was set by the Harvard Crimson with 21 victories.

The Golden Gophers’ rivals, the Wisconsin Badgers set the previous unbeaten record of 32 on two separate occasions. Despite the historic winning streak reaching its end, the program is still working on the NCAA record of 35 consecutive wins on the road. 

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