After defeating St. Cloud State in the WCHA First Round, the Gophers head to Duluth for the 2012 WCHA Final Face-off, held at AMSOIL Arena. Minnesota will face North Dakota in the semifinals, with the game time at 7:37 p.m. on Friday, March 2. Wisconsin will play Minnesota Duluth in the earlier semifinal game on Friday. The championship game will be on Saturday, March 3 at 7:07 p.m.
Gophersports.com will carry a free radio broadcast and live blog for both games this weekend. A free video stream of the games will be available on WCHA.com.
Minnesota is listed at No. 2 in the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls. North Dakota is ranked No. 5 in the national polls. Wisconsin is the top-ranked team in both polls, while Minnesota Duluth is receiving votes.
The Gophers in the Final Face-off
Minnesota has a record of 10-2 in WCHA semifinal games, and a 3-7 record in championship games. The meeting with North Dakota will be a first in the WCHA Final Face-off. In WCHA semifinal and final games, the Gophers are 4-3 against Minnesota Duluth, 1-0 against Minnesota State, 4-1 against Ohio State and 4-5 against Wisconsin.
Minnesota has advanced to the WCHA Championship final in each of the last three seasons, with their last semifinal loss coming at the hands of Wisconsin in 2008.
Minnesota is tied with Wisconsin for the fewest goals allowed among WCHA teams, with the Gophers and Badgers each allowing just 50 goals on the season. Minnesota Duluth is third in the conference in goals allowed with 76, while North Dakota is fourth with 83 goals allowed this season.
Minnesota and Wisconsin are also tied for first place in the league in scoring defense, each allowing and average of 1.39 goals per game. Minnesota Duluth ranks third in the conference with an average of 2.24 goals allowed per game, while North Dakota is fifth in the WCHA, allowing 2.37 goals per game.
Minnesota scored two power play goals against St. Cloud State last weekend, giving the team a 25.0 percent power play efficiency for the season (44-76). The Gophers rank first in the WCHA and third nationally in power play efficiency.
The Gophers are second in the conference and sixth nationally on the penalty kill, successfully killing 128 of 145 penalties this season (87.8 percent). The Gophers did not give up a power play goal in last weekend's series against St. Cloud State.
Four Gopher players rank among the top 15 scorers in the WCHA. Amanda Kessel ranks fourth in the WCHA with 71 points (1.97 per game). Schoullis ranks seventh in the WCHA with 59 points (1.67 per game). Sarah Erickson is 13th in the conference with 42 points (1.17 per game), while Megan Bozek is 14th with 39 points (1.15 per game).
Minnesota has three defensemen who rank among the top 10 in the WCHA in scoring by defensemen. Junior Megan Bozek is second in the conference with 39 points. Senior Anne Schleper is tied for fifth with 27 points, and freshman Rachel Ramsey is tied for eighth with 22 points.
Raty Sets School Records
With two wins versus St. Cloud State last weekend, junior goalie Noora Räty reached 28 wins for the season, the school record for wins in a season. Jody Horak is in second place in the record book with 24 wins in the 2004-05 season.
Räty set the school record for career shutouts when she got her 22nd at St. Cloud State on Feb. 4. She had since added two shutouts, and currently has 24 in her career and eight this season.
Schleper Moves Up in Record Books
Senior defenseman Anne Schleper had an assist on Bethany Brausen's goal in last Friday's game against SCSU, giving her 113 career points. She moved ahead of Courtney Kennedy for second place on Minnesota's all-time list for points by a defenseman. Kennedy (1998-2001) had 112 career points. The school record for points by a defenseman is 134 by Winny Brodt (1998-2003).
Bozek Leads the Way
Junior defenseman Megan Bozek ranks second nationally in scoring by defensemen with 39 points on the season. In first place is North Dakota's Monique Lamoureux-Kolls, who has also played at forward this season.
Bozek missed the series against St. Cloud State last weekend due to injury, but should return to the line up this weekend at the WCHA Fin al Faceoff.
Moving Up the Ranks
After adding four points in the 5-2 win against North Dakota on Feb. 18, Megan Bozek has 86 career points and moved up to fourth place on the Minnesota all-time scoring list for defensemen, passing Ronda Curtin (85 points, 1999-2003).
Bozek also scored her 25th career goal on Feb. 18 and passed Brittny Ralph (24 goals from 1997-99) for fourth in Gopher history in goals by a defenseman.
About North Dakota
North Dakota qualified for the WCHA Final Face-off by defeating Bemidji State by scores of 3-1 and 2-0 last weekend. UND has an overall record of 22-10-3 this season, and a mark of 16-9-3 in WCHA games.
Jocelyne Lamoureux is the leading scorer for UND this season with 34 goals and 48 assists for 82 points. She is also the top scorer in the nation. Monique Lamoureux-Kolls has 26 goals and 44 assists for 70 points to rank second on the team and fifth nationally.
Stephanie Ney is the top goaltender for North Dakota, playing 21 games with a goals against average of 2.66.
The Series against North Dakota
Minnesota holds a 31-5 all-time record against North Dakota, but has not fared well against UND in recent meetings as all five of North Dakota's wins have come in the past two years. In Grand Forks in December, the Gophers won the first game by a 7-2 margin, but lost 3-0 in the second game of the series. The 3-0 loss on Dec. 3 is the only shutout loss for the Gophers this season.
In Minneapolis Feb. 17-18, North Dakota won on Friday night by a 2-1 margin in overtime, Minnesota came back to win on Saturday by a score of 5-2.
North Dakota is the only team the Gophers do not have a winning record against in the 2011-12 season.
Home Sweet Home
The Gophers are 17-1-2 at home in Ridder Arena this season, including a perfect 12-0-0 mark in the first half of the season.
Minnesota is 12-4 on the road this season, splitting at Wisconsin, Bemidji State, North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth, while earning series sweeps at Harvard, Minnesota State, St. Cloud State and Ohio State.
Fans in the Stands
The Gophers had a weekend attendance of 5,220 against Wisconsin Jan. 6-7, with 2,554 fans at Ridder for Friday's game and 2,666 fans in attendance on Saturday. Both figures rank among the top 10 all-time attendance numbers for Ridder Arena.
Against North Dakota on Feb. 18, Minnesota had its third game with more than 2,000 in attendance with a crowd of 2,157.
The Gophers have an average home attendance of 1,301 this season, up 49.3 percent from the attendance average of 838 last season. This season, the Gophers have had seven home games with crowds of 1,500 and over. Minnesota did not draw any crowds of 1,500-plus last season.
Four Gophers have scored hat tricks this season, sophomores Amanda Kessel and Kelly Terry, and seniors Jen Schoullis and Emily West.
Emily West had three goals in the Jan. 27 game at Minnesota State, marking the first hat trick of her career. West scored the Gophers' final three goals of the game to give her team a 6-3 victory.
Kelly Terry got her first career hat trick at Harvard, scoring three goals in the first period. It was the second multiple-goal game for Terry as she had two goals against St. Cloud State on Oct. 8.
Jen Schoullis had her first hat trick at Bemidji State on Oct. 28.
Amanda Kessel has four hat tricks this season. She recorded two hat tricks against New Hampshire Nov. 18-19, marking the first time since 2004 that a Gopher player had two hat tricks in a weekend.
Coaching the Gophers
Brad Frost is in his fifth season as the Golden Gophers' head coach, and his 12th season overall with the Minnesota program. Frost started as an assistant coach in the 2000-01 season and was elevated to associate head coach following the 2005-06 season. He was named the interim head coach in summer of 2007, and was officially named the head coach of the Gophers following the 2007-08 campaign.
Frost holds a career record of 140-36-16 (.771).
Selections for the 2012 NCAA Championship will be announced on Sunday, March 4 at 5 p.m. on NCAA.com. Quarterfinal games will be held at the sites of the top four seeds on March 9 and 10. The NCAA Frozon Four will be held at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth on March 16-18.