Minnesota goalie Noora R├Ąty - 2012-2013

Raty and Gophers begin NCAA Hockey Championship defense

The term “standing on your head” is used to describe a goaltender who is playing at an elite level for any extended amount of time. More often than not a lone goal or two will get by a goalie, but their excellent play is noticed by observers.

That is not the case with University of Minnesota senior goaltender Noora Raty right now. The fourth year starter who leads the Gophers into the NCAA Women’s Hockey Tournament this weekend has not allowed a goal in five straight games.

She has not allowed a goal to cross the line behind her in 320 minutes. To put that into some perspective, only seven other goalies in the nation have recorded five shutouts on the year. Leading that list is Alex Rigsby of Wisconsin who has seven.

Raty has 17 shutouts on the year — an NCAA record.

The stretch of hockey that the Patty Kazmaier Award finalist is on may be the best of her career. The term “standing on her head” wouldn’t give justice to the level that Raty is playing on right now. Her opponent for the start of the 2013 NCAA women’s hockey tournament is the University of North Dakota.

It will be the sixth meeting of the season between the two teams and Minnesota, who recently dispatched UND in the WCHA Final Face-off Championship 2-0 last Saturday, has outscored UND 23-9 in the season series.

North Dakota is arguably the toughest competition behind the Maroon and Gold in the WCHA. Randomly enough in the eight team tournament field, they meet again.

Puck drop at Ridder Arena is slated for 4 CT Saturday and the loser is done for the year.

Minnesota who have not lost in 46 straight games would like to play as the host school in the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four next weekend at Ridder. A win versus UND earns them that opportunity.

The defending national champions have some work to do to get by North Dakota in the first round. A familiar opponent who will be coming with everything they have.

They best way to stop that fierce rush from UND — have one of the best collegiate goaltenders blocking shots.

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