Undefeated Gopher women face UND with win-streak on the line

Last Feburary, the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team fell to the University of North Dakota 2-1 in overtime at Ridder Arena — they haven’t lost a game since.

This weekend Minnesota welcomes UND back to Ridder Arena for the first time since that loss. From that point the Maroon and Gold have won 28 consecutive games, a NCAA record. They also captured the 2012 NCAA women’s hockey National Championship since the last time they faced each other.

The Gophers sit 20-0-0 on the season and welcome an always tough North Dakota squad into their barn. UND sits just outside the USCHO Top-10 Division I women’s hockey rankings — just one win versus the Gophers would catapult them up the charts.

Minnesota head coach Brad Frost and his squad would like to continue their run towards immortality. Undefeated so far on the year and no real reason they shouldn’t make a run at a perfect season. But with the success they have had this year, are the Gophers moments away from the bottom falling out?

Not Likely.

Minnesota is dominating the sport right now in every statistical category and their depth of talent should provide the stability to stay in that position.

The Gophers are No. 1 in the nation in the rankings and as well as in team offense, team defense, power play percentage, penalty kill percentage, shorthanded goals, and of course, wins.

Individually Minnesota junior forward Amanda Kessel leads the nation in scoring with 54 points in 19 games. She also has the most goals scored, shorthanded goals, points per game, and is tied for the nation’s lead in assists with line mate Hannah Brandt.

Brandt is second in the national in scoring with 48 total points.

Pair these two dynamic scorers with a bevy of talent up and down the roster and the Gophers look to be world beaters. But will it take a couple of former Gophers to keep Minnesota from setting another NCAA record?

Kessel and her teammates are just five wins or ties away from setting the NCAA record for longest unbeaten streak which is owned by rival Wisconsin. Twin sisters Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux played for Minnesota their freshmen year before skipping a season to play and win a Silver Medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with Team USA.

The siblings then transferred home to Grand Forks, N.D. for their sophomore season and avoided sitting out a year per the NCAA Transfer Rule.

The senior sisters lead North Dakota in scoring and are first and second in the nation in power play goals scored. They will bring that potent power play with them to Ridder Arena this weekend.

Start time for tonight’s game was pushed back one hour to accommodate larger than expected crowd at Ridder Arena. It will now begin at 7:07 p.m. CT. Tomorrow’s series finale is still scheduled for 4:07 p.m. CT.

If you want to see some good hockey this evening, I would recommend getting down to Ridder Arena early and absorb the atmosphere of high-end women’s hockey.

Prediction: Minnesota stays unbeaten. Friday: Gophers 4, UND 2. Saturday: Minnesota 5, North Dakota 1.

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