Gophers Set for WCHA Final Face-off
March 5, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS – No. 1 Minnesota (34-1-1) is set to make its 14th-straight WCHA Final Face-off appearance this week. The top-seeded Gophers face No. 4 seed Minnesota Duluth (15-14-6) in the WCHA semifinals at 7:07 p.m. CT Friday at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn. No. 2 seed Wisconsin (27-6-2) and No. 3 seed North Dakota (19-11-4) face off in the first semifinal match-up at 4:07 p.m. CT.
The semifinal winners meet in the WCHA Final Face-off championship game at 7:07 p.m. CT Saturday night. The winner earns the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
ABOUT THE SERIES: GOPHERS VS. BULLDOGS
Minnesota is 40-24-6 all-time against Minnesota Duluth. The most recent series saw the Gophers sweep UMD in Minneapolis with back-to-back 6-0 victories. Minnesota also defeated UMD on the road, 4-0 and 6-3 (Oct. 18-19, 2013). The Gophers have won the last 10 meetings between the two teams.
GOPHERS VS. THE WCHA FINAL FACE-OFF FIELD
Minnesota is 11-1-0 against the WCHA Final Face-off field this season with the lone loss to North Dakota in a 3-2 decision at Ridder Arena on Nov. 17. The Gophers own a 42-6-0 record against UND all-time, including a 3-1-0 record this season. Meanwhile, Minnesota swept Wisconsin in two series this season to improve to 39-26-8 all-time against the Badgers.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT: MINNESOTA DULUTH
Minnesota Duluth (15-14-6) advanced to the WCHA Final Face-off by defeating No. 5 seed Ohio State in the best-of-three first round series. UMD won a 1-0 decision last Friday, with Jamie Kenyon scoring the lone goal and Kayla Black making 26 saves in the shutout win, only to see OSU earn a 3-2 victory Saturday. Minnesota Duluth then got two goals by Zoe Hickel en route to a 5-1 victory Sunday to earn its trip to the conference playoff championship.
UMD owns five WCHA playoff crowns (2010, 2008, 2003, 2001 and 2000). The Bulldogs are 31-12 in the WCHA postseason. Minnesota Duluth has welcomed back Olympic defensemen Lara Stalder, from bronze-medalist Switzerland, and Tea Villala, from Finland, to their lineup.
Jenna McParland leads the Bulldogs with 32 points (11g-21a) in 35 games. Jamie Kenyon (17g-14a) and Zoe Hickel (13g-14a) round out UMD’s top three scorers. Minnesota Duluth averages 2.40 goals per game.
The Bulldogs are led by sophomore Kayla Black in net. Black is 14-12-6 with a 2.26 goals against average, a .920 save percentage and five shutouts. Minnesota Duluth’s defense ranks fourth in the WCHA, allowing 2.29 goals per game in 35 games.
WEEKEND REWIND: GOPHERS SWEEP HUSKIES TO ADVANCE IN WCHA POSTSEASON
Minnesota defeated eighth-seeded St. Cloud State, 4-1 and 7-1, in the WCHA first round best-of-three series to advance to this weekend’s WCHA Final Face-off. Hannah Brandt (2g-4a) and Meghan Lorence (2g-3a) led the Gophers against the Huskies. Maryanne Menefee (2g-1a), Sarah Davis (1g-2a), Rachael Bona (3a) and Rachel Ramsey (1g-2a) each added three points. Amanda Leveille combined for 27 saves on 29 shots, and Shyler Sletta made four saves in one period of action in net.
Meghan Lorence led Minnesota with three points on a goal and two assists, while Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-10 finalists Rachael Bona and Hannah Brandt each recorded two assists as the Gophers skated to a 4-1 win in game one of the best-of-three series. After the teams played a scoreless first period, the Gophers and Huskies combined for four goals in the second period. Minnesota added one goal in the third period to seal the victory.
Minnesota won the best-of-three series with a 7-1 victory in game two led by Hannah Brandt’s four points. The Gophers scored four goals in a 57-second span of the second period to break open a 1-0 game after Kelly Terry scored a power-play goal to put Minnesota on the board midway through the first period. Kate Flug and Brandt added third-period goals to seal the victory.
MINNESOTA IN THE WCHA POSTSEASON
With two wins so far this season, the Gophers are 35-10-0 (.778) all-time in the WCHA postseason, including five WCHA postseason titles (2002, 2004, 2005, 2012 and 2013).
SAVE THE DATE: NCAA POSTSEASON
The NCAA tournament field will be announced on Sunday, March 9. The selection show will air live on NCAA.com at 5 p.m. CT. The top four seeds will host quarterfinal games on Friday, March 14 or Saturday, March 15. If the Gophers advance and are assigned to host a quarterfinal game at Ridder Arena, it is expected to be played at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 15.
Minnesota leads the nation in attendance at 73,896 fans in 36 games this season for a 2,052 average. In 18 home games, the Gophers average 2,382 fans per game. This season marks the first time in program history that Minnesota has averaged over 2,000 fans per game.
GOPHERS ON THE POWER PLAY
The Gophers were 4-for-6 on the power play against the Huskies last weekend. Minnesota’s power play leads the nation at 32.4 percent (46/142) led by Dani Cameranesi, who is tied for second in the nation with eight power-play goals.
TWO GOPHERS REACH 50-POINT MARK
Two Gophers have surpassed the 50-point mark this season in Hannah Brandt (21g-40a) and Rachael Bona (20g-35a). Sarah Davis (19g-28a) and Kelly Terry (17g-27a) have surpassed the 40-point mark for the first time in their careers as well. Fourteen Gophers are in double-digits for scoring, including 10 players with at least 20 points. Among the Gophers’ 12 returning skaters, nine have already surpassed or tied their career-bests for points in a single season.
During Minnesota’s six-goal second period against Bemidji State (Feb. 7), the Gophers scored five goals in a 4:12 span for the fastest five goals on record in Gopher women's hockey program history. The previous record was five goals scored in 6:23 in 2000.
Minnesota scored four goals in a 57-second span of the second period against St. Cloud State (March 1) to set another record. The previous record for the fastest four goals in Gopher women’s hockey program history was 1:46 at Minnesota State on Jan. 15, 2000.
ROAD WINNING STREAK CONTINUES
Minnesota’s NCAA-record road winning streak currently sits at 44 games. The streak dates back to a 3-0 win over Minnesota Duluth on Jan. 14, 2012. Including neutral games, Minnesota has 47-consecutive victories when playing away from Ridder Arena spanning over the last two years.
The Gophers enter the 2014 WCHA Final Face-off on a 22-game unbeaten streak (21-0-1). Minnesota is 83-1-1 in their last 85 games, dating back to the start of the team's NCAA-record 62-game winning streak (Feb. 18, 2012 through Nov. 16, 2013). The Gophers are a combined 92-3-3 in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 calendar years.
ROOKIE SCORING LEADERS
CENTURY MARK SCORING
Three Gophers have surpassed the 100-career point mark this season as Sarah Davis tallied her 100th point as a Gopher with an assist in Minnesota’s 7-0 win at Minnesota State (Nov. 2), and sophomore Hannah Brandt picked up point No. 100 with an assist in a 6-1 win over North Dakota (Nov. 16). Most recently, junior Rachael Bona surpassed the century mark with two assists in the Gophers’ 4-1 win over St. Cloud State (Feb. 28).
LEVEILLE LOGS SHUTOUT MINUTES
Sophomore goaltender Amanda Leveille is tied for the national lead with 13 shutouts this season. She had a three-game shutout streak Feb. 15-22 and posted 232:39 consecutive shutout minutes over five games, including 14:42 (Wisconsin, Feb. 14), 60:00 (Wisconsin, Feb. 15), 59:57 (UMD, Feb. 21) and 59:58 (UMD, Feb. 22) and 38:02 (St. Cloud State, Feb. 28). Earlier this season, Leveille recorded 219:31 consecutive shutout minutes over five games Jan. 11-25, including three-straight shutout victories She began her Gopher career by playing 281:34 without allowing a goal, a streak including action in eight games from Sept. 29, 2012 to Oct. 4, 2013.
GOPHERS RANK AMONG WCHA, NATIONAL STATISTICAL LEADERS
Hannah Brandt (21g-40a) is the national leader with 61 points, 1.69 points per game, 40 assists and 1.11 assists per game. Meanwhile, Rachael Bona (20g-35a) is second in the nation with 35 assists and 0.97 assists per game. Bona also ranks third with 55 points and fourth with 1.53 points per game. Four Gophers are among the nation’s top 20 in goals per game: Megan Lorence (tied for 10th with 0.60), Brandt (13th with 0.58), Bona (15th with .056) and Sarah Davis (tied for 18th with 0.53).
Sophomore goaltender Amanda Leveille leads the nation with a .950 save percentage and ranks second in the nation with a 1.08 goals against average. She leads the nation with a .958 winning percentage (34-1-1), and her 13 shutouts are tied for the NCAA’s best.
The Gophers lead the nation with a +3.78 scoring margin, led by the NCAA’s top offense averaging 4.83 goals per game and the nation’s top defense allowing 1.06 goals per game in 36 games.
MINNESOTA REMAINS UNANIMOUS NO. 1
The Golden Gophers remained the unanimous No. 1 in both the USCHO.com and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls this week. Minnesota has been No. 1 in the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls since the final poll of the 2011-12 season (March 19-20, 2012). This stretch includes 45-straight USCHO.com polls and 48-straight USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.
MINNESOTA ADDS FOUR FRESHMEN FOR 2014-15
Head coach Brad Frost and the University of Minnesota women’s hockey program have announced the addition of four student-athletes for the 2014-15 season. Defenseman Sydney Baldwin (Minnetonka, Minn.), forward Kelly Pannek (Plymouth, Minn.), forward Cara Piazza (Darian, Ill.) and forward Nina Rodgers (Minnetonka, Minn.) have signed with the Golden Gophers and will join the team in the fall of 2014. Baldwin recently was named the 2014 Minnesota Ms. Hockey award winner; Pannek and Rodgers were top-five finalists as well.
ON THE HORIZON