2012 NCAA Champions
2011-12 Schedule/Results | Photo Gallery | The Golden Gophers celebrate! | Postgame News Conference
The Golden Gopher women's hockey team returned to the pinnacle of college hockey when it claimed its third NCAA Championship and fourth national title with a 4-2 win over rival Wisconsin at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn. Minnesota claimed its first national crown since 2005 and denied the Badgers their second straight championship.
In the national title tilt, Minnesota would get on the scoreboard first, as Amanda Kessel scored nine minutes, 45 seconds into the game with an assist from Baylee Gillanders. Less than two minutes later, the Gophers made it 2-0 with a goal by Sarah Erickson, assisted by Sarah Davis and Emily West. Erickson went top side, getting the puck past Badger goalie Alex Rigsby. The Badgers responded later in the period with a power-play goal and a goal on a delayed penalty. The contest would ultimately be decided on a first for an NCAA Championship game. With 90 seconds remaining in the first period, Emily West was tripped on a breakaway and was awarded the tournament's first-ever penalty shot. The fifth-year senior would capitalize with a goal that proved to be the game-winner.
From there, goaltender Noora Raty dominated between the pipes. The junior, already an Olympic Bronze Medalist for Team Finland, added Frozen Four MVP honors to her resume' as she brushed aside 42 Wisconsin shots to earn her 33rd win of the season, a new school record.
Minnesota reached the national title game with a 3-1 win in the semifinals against the Big Red of Cornell. Just like the game against the Badgers, Minnesota jumped ahead early with first-period goals from Amanda Kessel and Megan Bozek. After Cornell pulled to within one with a goal in the second period, the Golden Gopher defense led by Raty kept the Big Red off the scoreboard, while West's empty-net goal put the game away. The Golden Gophers advanced to their first title game since 2006 with the win.
The Golden Gophers' national title capped an exhilirating 2011-12 season. Minnesota finished the season with a 34-5-2 record and finished second in the WCHA behind Wisconsin with a 21-5-2 mark. In a precursor to the national title run in Duluth, the Golden Gophers captured another title in Amsoil Arena just two weeks prior. Minnesota routed North Dakota, 6-0, in the first round of the WCHA Final Faceoff and then blanked host UMD, 2-0, to win its first WCHA Tournament championship since 2005. Raty was named tournament MVP.
Minnesota's deep and talented roster produced its fair share of accolades and achievements. Junior defenseman Megan Bozek was named a first-team All-American, while sophomore forward Amanda Kessel was a second-team honoree. Kessel was also named a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award. WCHA honorees included first-teamers Bozek and senior Anne Schleper, while Kessel and senior Jen Schoullis were second-team honorees. Raty was a third-team selection in net.
Kessel led the Golden Gophers in scoring with 80 points (32g, 48a) in 41 games and was followed by a trio of seniors. Schoullis ranked second with 64 points, followed by Sarah Erickson with 49 and West with 44. Raty started 40 of 41 games and finished with a 33-5-2 record with a 1.35 gaa and .942 save percentage.
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