The #2 Ranked Gopher Women's Hockey team beat #3 Wisconsin 4-1 on Saturday night, and then tied the Badgers 1-1 on Sunday. The Gophers did win the shootout, and garnered the extra point in the WCHA Standings. The tie on Sunday snapped the Gophers 14-game winning streak against the Badgers, but kept alive a now 15-game unbeaten streak. The Gophers junior, sophomore, and freshman players have NEVER lost to Wisconsin.
Saturday's game got off to a fast start of the Badgers. They won the opening face-off and got two quality shots on Gopher goalie Amanda Leveille before there were even fifteen seconds gone in the period. However, Leveille turned them both away, along with 21 others over the course of the game. Both teams had chances in the first period, and it appeared it would end scoreless. However, with just over a minute left in the first, a Badger defender tripped over the referees leg behind her own net, falling and putting the puck on Gopher freshman Cara Piazza's stick. Piazza did not waist any time dekeing out Badger goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens on the backhand, and put the puck in the net to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.
The second period was similar to the first in that both teams had periods of dominance. The Badgers put the pressure on hard in the Minnesota end, and Leveille was contacted twice by Badgers with no penalty calls. On the second contact she lost her stick and blocker behind her own net, and in an attempt to get a stoppage of play, Leveille apparently unstrapped her helmet and spiked it to the ice. Play was stopped, however the referee did see what Leveille had done, and gave her a penalty for delay of game. The Badgers took advantage of the ensuing power play and Karley Sylvester garnered a rebound to the left of Leveille and put it behind her to knot the score at 1 with 8:56 left in the second period.
It would remain that way until the 15:54 mark of the second when Hannah Brandt took the puck near the Badger blue line, avoided several onrushing Badger defenders and ripped a gorgeous wrister over Desbiens shoulder to put the Gophers back on top at 2-1. They would not lose the lead again.
In the third period, the Gophers top line of Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, and Maryanne Menefee completely dominated. They were the best players on the ice, and it showed as their line would score the last two goals of the game. Cameranesi got her goal at the 5:23 mark of the third when she took a pass from Brandt in the slot and as she was being taken down to the ice flipped a shot that leaked through Desbiens' pads and into the net. The final goal of the game came at the 14:17 mark of the third when Rachel Ramsey ripped a hard shot from the point that deflected off several bodies in front of the Badger net before going in. The goal would be reviewed, and it was upheld. It was originally given to Cameranesi at the time, however after further postgame review, it appeared the puck actually hit Cameranesi and then bounced off of Brandt and into the net. The goal was changed to be credited to Brandt with an assist going to Cameranesi on the deflection. The Gophers would ice out the rest of the clock and ease home to a 4-1 win, advancing their win streak over the Badgers to 14 games in a row.
Here is a video of Gopher forward Dani Cameranesi talking about Saturday's game:
And here is Gopher coach Brad Frost discussing Saturday's win:
The two teams came back on Sunday afternoon and both looked ready to take charge of the game. Both teams had some great scoring opportunities in the first period, but both goaltenders stood tall and would not let anything past them. In the second period, the Badgers seemed to take more and more control of the game as the period went on. The last five minutes of the period was completely dominated by Wisconsin in the Minnesota end, and the Gophers dam could only hold up so much. With 22 seconds left in the second period, Wisconsin finally scored as freshman Emily Clark got a deflection of a shot from the point past Leveille.
In the third both teams came out with cautious attacks. The Gophers did not seems to have any additional momentum like they did in the third on Saturday. This many be due to the fact that the Gophers were playing their fourth game in seven days, though no one on the Minnesota team or coaching staff would admit that. Finally, Minnesota broke through at the 13:28 mark of the third when Meghan Lorence threw a pass in from of the net to Hannah Brandt. The puck deflected off of Brandt and went into the net. The goal was reviewed, and was allowed to stand.
Both teams had opportunities in the remainder of the third and in overtime, but no one else could get a puck past Leveille or Desbiens, and the game officially ended in a 1-1 tie. The teams did go to a shootout to see who would get the extra point in the WCHA standings, and the only goal was scored by Brandt who put a gorgeous wrist shot in the upper right corner of the net over Desbiens shoulder. Leveille stopped all three shots she saw, and the Gophers got the extra point.
Here is Hannah Brandt talking about Sunday's game:
The Badgers still have a one point lead in the WCHA standings with 41 points to the Gophers' 40. However, Minnesota has two games in hand on the Badgers, and would appear in control of their own destiny to win their third consecutive WCHA regular season championship. The Gophers and the Badgers ended the season series with Minnesota winning 3-0-1. However, it is very likely these teams will see each other at least once more before the end of the season, either in the WCHA Frozen Faceoff in Grand Forks, in the NCAA Frozen Four back at Ridder Arena or even both.
The Gophers are back in action this weekend hosting a series against Minnesota State-Mankato. Face-offs are at 7:07 on Friday night, and 4:07 on Saturday.