WCHA title within reach for Gopher women's hockey tonight

The University of Minnesota women’s hockey team has another milestone in reach Friday evening at Ridder Arena when they host the first of a two game series versus the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The team is just a win away from claiming the WCHA regular season title, the seventh in the school’s history.

The undefeated Gophers at 26-0-0 overall, 20-0-0 in WCHA competition this season, welcome the No. 10 ranked Bulldogs on campus for a 6:07 p.m. face-off this evening.

UMD is arguably the most successful NCAA women’s ice hockey team in the history of the sport, having claimed five national championships and missing just two NCAA tournaments since they began in 2001.

The Bulldogs also currently sit in a tie for second place in the WCHA standings, but well behind Minnesota. The Gophers defeated UMD 4-1 and 4-0 earlier this season at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, back on Nov. 2-3, 2012.

The Gophers need just one more point this season to lay at least a claim of the conference regular season title. An overtime loss in any of the team’s final eight games before the postseason would give them that point.

After going undefeated this far into the season, the WCHA crown is inevitable.

Individually tonight for the Maroon and Gold, senior goaltender Noora Räty is just one win away from setting the NCAA record for career wins by a netminder. She is sitting at 100 wins and is currently tied with former Mercyhurst backstop Hillary Pattenden.

In addition to Räty’s possible accomplishment, junior forward Amanda Kessel will continue to make the push for career and single-season records of her own.

Kessel leads the nation in scoring at 75 points and is on pace to set the single-season NCAA scoring record, which stands at 114 points.

She also is just 42 points away from setting the all-time scoring mark at Minnesota, which is held by Natalie Darwitz at 246 overall.

Darwitz also holds the single-season scoring record at 114.

All of these will be the back story to another exciting night and weekend at Ridder Arena. With the Gopher men’s hockey team off this weekend, look for big crowds and great hockey tonight and tomorrow in Minneapolis.

The series finale is scheduled for 2:36 p.m. tomorrow and will be aired live on Big Ten Network.

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