Same score, different story as the University of Minnesota women's hockey team battled to defeat North Dakota, 6-3, Saturday afternoon in front of a Ridder Arena crowd of 2,703. In a game that showcased two of the most powerful offenses in the country, the Golden Gophers (22-0-0, 16-0-0 WCHA) netted five goals in the third period to sweep rival UND (13-9-0, 8-8-0 WCHA).
After matching one another's goals throughout the third period, the Gophers snatched a one-goal lead nine minutes into the period on a Rachel Ramsey wrist shot. The Maroon & Gold cycled the puck through the corner before finding Ramsey at the point, where she flung a low shot under the pads of UND's goalie.
Following Ramsey's goal, Minnesota would be tested on the defensive end as the Gophers received back-to-back penalties, which gave North Dakota a four minute skater advantage. Despite allowing three power-play goals earlier in the game, the Maroon & Gold put together a strong defensive stance that involved not only remarkable saves by Noora Räty but also key blocks by Minnesota skaters. Two of the most notable blocks came from junior Amanda Kessel and freshman Lee Stecklein.
Kessel was also instrumental in closing out the game for the Maroon & Gold as she netted two goals in the final minute of play.
Contrary to last night's game, North Dakota was the first team to score as they lit the lamp 1:59 into the first period. Their lead would hold until midway through the second period when Rachael Bona batted in a rebound on a Minnesota power play. Prior to today's game, the Gophers had only trailed a total of 39 seconds, which was also to UND.
The 1-1 stalemate was carried into the third period but didn't last long as Hannah Brandt went top shelf to give the Maroon & Gold a 2-1 lead. Following Brandt's goal, the two teams traded goals until Kessel gave Minnesota a two-goal lead with 59 seconds remaining in the game, which eventually turned into a three-goal lead with a Kessel empty netter in the closing seconds.
The sweep of North Dakota is the first at home for the Gophers since the 2009-10 season.
Räty receives her 96th career win as she deflected 22 shots. All three goals scored on the Finnish native were tallied on a power play. She is now only four wins away from tying the NCAA record for career victories (100).
Minnesota's victory improves their NCAA record winning streak to 30 games, which is two off the NCAA unbeaten streak held by Wisconsin. The Gophers put their streak on the line next weekend as they travel to Minnesota State. The two face-off Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.