A pair of Finnish natives led the University of Minnesota women's hockey to a 2-0 win over rival Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon. It was senior Mira Jalosuo who unknotted the game midway through the third period by netting the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal, while fellow senior Noora Räty shutout the Badgers to garner the sweep for the Maroon & Gold.
After being denied goals for the first 1:40 of the power play, Minnesota's second special teams unit came on the ice for their opportunity at breaking through the wall that held them scoreless for over two periods. Junior Sarah Davis won the faceoff and had the puck shoot back to senior Becky Kortum. The two forwards exchanged the puck before swinging it around to Jalosuo at the left faceoff circle. The senior defenseman was waiting with her stick in the air and launched a missile into the upper left corner of the goal. Davis and Kortum were each credited with an assist.
Immediately following Jalosuo's fifth goal of the season, a Ridder Arena crowd of 2,132 fans tossed teddy bears onto the ice in support of the Gophers' toy drive, which benefits the Toys for Tots Foundation.
Prior to the goal, the Maroon & Gold (18-0-0, 12-0-0 WCHA) had bombarded Wisconsin's goaltender Alex Rigsby in the first two periods, but Rigsby held strong and pitched a shutout through the first two periods and then up until Jalosuo's goal at 9:14 in the third. It was the first time since Dec. 3, 2011 versus North Dakota that the Gophers had been held scoreless through the first two periods.
In the closing minute of play, Wisconsin (10-6-2, 6-6-2 WCHA) pulled Rigsby from goal in hopes of evening the match, but junior Amanda Kessel sealed the Gopher victory with an empty netter with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
The win solidifies the first Minnesota sweep of Wisconsin since the 2004-05 season (Jan. 29 and 30), which also happened at Ridder Arena.
The Badgers came out hot in the first period and took advantage of a sluggish Gopher squad by outshooting the Maroon & Gold, 11-8, but Räty was up to the challenge and kept UW off the board.
In the following two period, Räty faced just eight additional Wisconsin shots en route to garnering her seventh shutout of the season. On the other hand, the Gophers peppered Rigsby for 17 shots on goal in the second and another 14 in the third period. Senior Megan Bozek led the Gophers with eight shots on net while Kessel had six.
Räty now sits just six shutouts away from tying former Badger Jessie Vetter's NCAA record of 39. The win was also the 92nd of the senior goaltender's career, which puts her just eight back from matching former Mercyhurst goaltender Hillary Pattenden's record of 100.
Minnesota now has just one series remaining this first half of the 2012-13 season, and it is next weekend at Bemidji State. Games are slated for Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m.