The #2 ranked Gopher Women's hockey team went into Madison and swept the #1 ranked Badgers this past weekend! The Gophers won 4-1 on Friday night, and then fought back for a come from behind 2-1 overtime win on Saturday! The Gophers have now won the last 13 games against Wisconsin, seven of which have pitted two two teams where one is ranked #1 and the other #2 in the country.
Friday night the Gophers used their outstanding penalty kill to take all of the momentum away from the Badgers and control the game. The Gophers had to kill their first penalty with just over six minutes gone in the first period as Rachael Bona got called for tripping. Twenty-three seconds into the kill, Hannah Brandt picked up a loose puck and put it past Badger goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens to put the Gophers up 1-0 early. Wisconsin would respond back just as their power-play ended and Karley Sylvester got the puck past Amanda Leveille.
Just over a minute later, the Gophers would go back on top as Dani Cameranesi scored her first goal on the night after a beautiful toe-drag to get around a Badger defender. She got her second with 0.3 seconds left in the period on the power-play off of a rebound of a Hannah Brandt shot. The Gophers went into the locker room leading 3-1.
In the second period, the Gopher penalty killers won the game when they killed off four consecutive Badger power-plays. The Gophers spend eight minutes of a ten minutes stretch of the second period shorthanded, but kept the puck out of the net. With 40 seconds left in the second, Cameranesi took a pass from Lee Stecklein and put it past Desbiens to complete the natural hat trick! It was Cameranesi's first hat trick as a Gopher!
Neither team would score in the third, and Minnesota would take the first game 4-1. Wisconsin would go 0-6 on the power play on the game, and Leveille would make 23 saves en route to picking up the win.
The teams came back on short rest to play on Saturday afternoon, and this game would be much closer. The first period would come and go with no scoring for either team. Wisconsin came out with much more energy outshooting the Gophers 15-12 in the first. Wisconsin would strike first in the second period when they finally converted on a power play opportunity after going zero for their first eight in the series. Sarah Nurse pushed a rebound of an Emily Clark shot past Leveille to give the Badgers the lead. They would control the rest of the period and take a 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
The Badgers controlled the majority of the third period as well. The Gophers had attempts but could not seem to push the puck past Desbiens. The Gophers caught a break when Baylee Wellhausen was called for hooking for Wisconsin with 3:09 left in the game. The Gophers worked on the power-play, and with 1:28 left to play Rachael Bona found a way to get the pack in the net to tie the game at one. Meghan Lorence and Kate Schipper assisted on the power-play goal. Wisconsin attacked as regulation ended, but the game would go to overtime.
In overtime, both teams had quality scoring chances, but the goalies came up big. With 1:28 left in overtime, the Gophers took their timeout and got their #1 line on the ice for the end of the game. It paid off as Rachel Ramsey jumped in on the Gophers offensive rush and took a pass from Cameranesi and buried it behind Desbiens to give the Gophers a 2-1 victory and the sweep.
Leveille again came up huge for Minnesota making a career high 40 saves in the victory. Cameranesi ended the weekend with four points, and Brandt added three of her own. With the sweep, the Gophers will once again be the #1 team in the nation this coming week, however the schedule does not get much easier. The Gophers will host a home series against North Dakota this weekend. The two teams will faceoff at 7:00 on Friday and 4:00 on Saturday at Ridder Arena.