College hockey is a gauntlet of a season. Playing Friday and Saturday nights every weekend from October to March is a grind for any team. But for the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team, they had something else to think about en route to their fourth NCAA National Championship: an undefeated season.
The Golden Gophers completed their perfect season Sunday afternoon when they cruised by Boston University 6-3 on Sunday to finish the first perfect season in the 13-year history of NCAA women’s hockey. They have also won 49-straight games dating back to late last season, which is an NCAA record. They also have the NCAA record for consecutive home wins at 27. Their 41-0-0 record this season includes 21 shutouts and the most goals allowed were three on four occasions. They also began the season with three goals allowed in their first eight games.
To make their feat even more eye-opening, they were taken to overtime three times. In every instance, the Golphers won 3-2. The first was during the regular season home finale February 16 against Bemidji State. They then went on a streak of six straight shutouts before being taken to overtime for the second time. That game was a triple-overtime win last Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament against North Dakota. It should also be noted they played North Dakota a week prior in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) championship game. Against North Dakota in the NCAA tournament, Minnesota tied the game late in the second period and the teams went 82:51 of scoreless hockey until Kelly Terry score the game-winning goal on the power play with just over a minute remaining in the third overtime.
In national semifinal against Boston College Friday night, the Gophers were also taken to overtime. This time, it ended in the first extra frame when Sarah Davis scored her seventh goal of the year just 1:39 into overtime.
In the championship game against Boston University, Mira Jalosuo got the scoring started with a power play goal at 11:38. Hannah Brandt’s shorthanded goal at 18:32 in the first frame was the first of the six goals to be scored with under five minutes left in the period. The game was broken open late in the second period when the Gophers scored at 16:02 and 19:48. The fourth goal with 12 seconds left in the period came on the power play to give them a 4-1 lead at the second intermission. After a early third period goal from the Terriers, the teams exchanged goals over the last five minutes before Amanda Kessel sealed it with 49 seconds left in the game. Kessel led the nation in scoring with 101 points including four in today’s title game, won the Patty Kazmaier Award. The award is given annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey by the USA Hockey Foundation, recognizing outstanding and individual team skills. Hockey runs in her family as brothers Phil and Blake play in the NHL and ECHL respectively as well as her cousin David Moss who skates for the Phoenix Coyotes.
The last NCAA team to finish the season without a tie or loss was the Cornell’s men’s squad in 1970 (29-0). The win also continues the WCHA dominance in the women’s college hockey landscape as they have won all 13 NCAA titles that have been contested. In addition to Minnesota’s four championships, Minnesota-Duluth has five titles and Wisconsin has four.