Gophers get perfect season with NCAA women's title
MINNEAPOLIS — Amanda Kessel scored twice, and the Gophers breezed by Boston University 6-3 on Sunday to finish the first perfect season in the 13-year history of NCAA women's hockey.
Mira Jalosuo, Hannah Brandt, Milica McMillen and Rachel Ramsey also scored for the Gophers (41-0), who won their second straight national championship — and fourth overall — and stretched their record winning streak to 49 games. Their last loss was to North Dakota on Feb. 17, 2012, more than 13 months ago.
Sarah Lefort, Marie-Philip Poulin and Jenelle Kohanchuk had goals for the Terriers (28-6-3), whose 10-game winning streak ended. They also lost in the title game in 2011.
Three Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams have won all 13 championships. Minnesota Duluth has five and Wisconsin has four.
Noora Raty made 21 saves for the Gophers, who never trailed after needing overtime to outlast Boston College in the semifinals and triple overtime to top North Dakota in the quarterfinals. This was more like most of Minnesota's regular season matchups. The Gophers trailed in only a handful of games while cruising through the WCHA.
Now they've made a convincing case as the best team ever in this young sport. Wisconsin went 36-1-4 in 2007 and 37-2-2 in 2011 to win national titles, but never has one school dominated from October through March quite like this Minnesota bunch.
Kessel, who won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award on Saturday as the top player in the country, added two assists. Maryanne Menefee had three helpers, and Ramsey had two. McMillen might've had the most impressive sequence of the afternoon when she hustled back to thwart a short-handed breakaway by BU late in the second period. McMillen stole the puck, sent it back to Minnesota's offensive zone and polished off the power play by zipping a slap shot past goalie Kerrin Sperry for a 4-1 lead with 12 seconds remaining before the intermission.
Jalosuo scored on a power play and Brandt had a short-handed goal in the first period to put the Gophers in front. Ramsey scored in the final frame to add to the cushion and Kessel fittingly capped her performance with an empty-netter.
Kessel, the brother of Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel, finished her junior year with 46 goals and 55 assists. Raty and defender Megan Bozek were the other finalists for the Kazmaier honor. Raty received the Most Outstanding Player award for the NCAA tournament.
The sellout crowd at cozy Ridder Arena, home ice for the Gophers, chanted "perfect season!" as the final seconds ticked down before the entire Gophers team flung helmets and sticks in the air on the way to pile on Raty in celebration in front of the net.