Feb. 21, 2013
|| No. 1 Minnesota vs. St. Cloud State
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. This weekend the Golden Gophers look to be the first program in NCAA history to finish the regular season with an unblemished record. They are currently on a 40-game winning streak, which dates back to Feb. 18, 2012. Their last loss was Feb. 17, 2012 in a 2-1 overtime loss to North Dakota. During this incredible streak, Minnesota has only trailed in four games for a total time of 47:56. This weekend they also put their NCAA record road winning streak of 23 games on the line. Their last loss on the road was Jan. 13, 2012 at Minnesota Duluth.
2. Minnesota is 53-3-2 all-time again St. Cloud State with their last loss coming Feb. 13, 2010. The Gophers swept the Huskies, 7-1 and 4-0, in their first WCHA series of the year back on Oct. 5-6. The last time the Maroon & Gold swept their final WCHA series of the season was in 2009, which came against SCSU. Minnesota has only garnered a pair of wins in their final weekend five times with three of them have come against St. Cloud State.
3. Senior goaltender Noora Raty looks to make history again this weekend as she is just one shutout from tying the NCAA career record of 39 and two from the single season record of 14, both which are held by former Wisconsin goalie Jessie Vetter. In Räty’s four seasons, she has garnered a total of six shutouts against SCSU and allowed just four goals. The Finnish native, who is 30-0-0 in net this year, is also chasing Vetter’s single season wins record of 33.
4. All season the Maroon & Gold’s biggest strength has been their power play. The Gophers are top in the country with a conversion percentage of 34.0% (48-for-141). Last weekend against Bemidji State, Minnesota went 4-for-11 with two power-play goals coming in the overtime triumph on Saturday. In the last meeting with SCSU, the Gophers dominated the Huskies on special teams and went 6-for-12 on power play chances. It helps having three potent weapons on your special teams unit in Amanda Kessel, Megan Bozek and Hannah Brandt. Kessel leads the nation with 28 power-play points (8g-20a), while Bozek is fourth with 25 (8g-17a). Brandt sits sixth with 23 (9g-14a) but is first on the team with nine goals.
5. Kessel enters the weekend at 93 points (43g-50a) this season, just seven away from becoming only the fourth player to reach 100 points in a single season. Former Gophers Natalie Darwitz (114 points) and Krissy Wendell (104) did so in 2005 on their national title run, while Jennifer Botterill from Harvard tallied 112 in 2003. The junior forward has a favorable chance against SCSU, a team that she has had a lot of success against in the past. Last season, she netted 18 points (11g-7a) in six games against the Huskies. In the two-game series earlier this year, Kessel notched seven points (2g-5a).
SCOUTING ST. CLOUD STATE
The Huskies enter the final weekend of WCHA play with a two point advantage over Bemidji State in the battle for last place in the league. SCSU is 9-20-3 on the year and 5-19-2 in conference play. Last weekend, they took four points from Minnesota State to leap over BSU in the standings. Whoever finishes last in the WCHA will face the Gophers at Ridder Arena in the opening round of the WCHA playoffs next weekend.
St. Cloud State has just four players that are in double digits with junior Molli Mott leading the way with 22 points (9g-13a). Seniors Haylea Schmid and Alex Nelson chip in with 21 points apiece.
Sophomore Julie Friend got the nod in both games last weekend against the Mavericks. Friend has a 2.88 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. She has been in net for five of the Huskies’ wins. Freshman Katie Fitzgerald is the other goaltender receiving action. Fitzgerald has a 3.07 goals against average and a .912 save percentage.