The No. 2 Golden Gophers earned a 1-0 victory against No. 1 Wisconsin today at Ridder Arena. Senior defenseman Kelly Seeler scored the gamewinner six and a half minutes into the game. Both teams had outstanding goaltending, with Gopher junior Noora Raty handing Wisconsin it's first shutout since February of 2010.
After a slow start in yesterday's game, the Gophers came out strong in the first period today. It didn't take long for Minnesota to take a one-goal lead, as senior defenseman Kelly Seeler knocked one in six minutes and 31 seconds into the game. Freshman Rachael Bona and sophomore Kelly Terry had assists on the goal. Seeler's goal was her first this season and 14th of her career, and marked the first game-winning goal of her career.
The first period was full of penalties, as Minnesota took two while Wisconsin had three. With one minute remaining in the period, Madison Packer went to the penalty box for checking, giving Minnesota a power play chance. Hilary Knight got called for tripping 25 seconds later, giving the Gophers a minute and 35 seconds with a two-skater advantage. The Gophers did not capitalize on the five-on-three chance, which carried into the second period.
Minnesota outshot Wisconsin 14-4 in the opening period, with just one of Wisconsin's shots coming on its power play opportunity.
The Badgers came back and outshot the Gophers in the second period 18-14, but with stellar goaltending from Noora Raty, Wisconsin was not able to even the score. Each team had two power play opportunities in the second, but both teams were successful on the penalty kill.
Entering the third period, Wisconsin switched up lines and moved Knight up to the first line with Carolyne Prevost and Brianna Decker to give the Badgers extra firepower on its top line. Raty, along with some help and blocked shots from Minnesota's defensive corps, shut down the Badger attack. Midway through the period, Sarah Erickson was called for high sticking and gave Wisconsin a power play opportunity, but the Gophers's penalty kill was successful. With just over a minute remaining in the game, Badger goalie Alex Rigsby left the ice, giving Wisconsin an extra skater. Minnesota was able to hold off the Badgers and earn the shutout win.
Minnesota handed Wisconsin its first shutout loss since Feb. 7, 2010 when Bemidji State shut out the Badgers 2-0. February 2010 also marks the last time Wisconsin went without a win in a weekend. Ohio State had two victories against the Badgers Feb. 26 and 27 in the 2010 WCHA Quarterfinals.
With the shutout, Noora Raty earned her fourth shutout this season, and the 20th of her career. She is now tied for second on Minnesota's all-time list in career shutouts, along with Jody Horak who had 20 shutouts in her career from 2002-05. Erica Killewald (1998-2001) holds the school record with 21 career shutouts.
With the win, the Gophers earn three points in the WCHA standings, but still trail Wisconsin by four points. The Badgers lead the way with 41 points, while the Gophers have 37. North Dakota is in third place with 28 while Minnesota Duluth is in fourth with 26 points, but neither of those teams have games scheduled this weekend.
Minnesota improves to 18-3-1 overall and 12-3-1 in WCHA games. Wisconsin moves to 19-2-1 overall and 13-2-1 in conference action. Both of Wisconsin's losses this season have come against Minnesota.
The Gophers are next in action at Minnesota Duluth Jan. 13-14. Both games at AMSOIL Arena will begin at 7 p.m.