MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The No. 3/5 University of Minnesota women's hockey team advanced to the WCHA FINAL FACEOFF after a 3-2 win Saturday, at Ridder Arena. Amanda Kessel scored the game-winning goal at 16:51 in the third period to lift the Golden Gophers (25-8-2) to the win. Minnesota was the first team to advance to the championship and will await to see the time and opponent. Game times for next Friday's semifinals will be at 4 and 7 p.m., with the championship game at 7 p.m. next Saturday, all at Ridder Arena. The loss ended Ohio State's season as it dropped to 14-19-3.
Sarah Erickson got the Gophers on the board when she scored her 100th career point at 10:48 in the first period. Kessel found Erickson between the circles and she fired a shot, high over OSU goalie Lisa Steffes. Erickson became the Gophers' 18th individual to tally over 100 points in her career. Prior to Erickson's feat, Emily West was the last Golden Gopher to tally 100 points in her career, set in 2009-10.
The Gophers then jumped to a 2-0 lead when Sarah Davis scored her 10th goal of the season at 11:54. While on the power-play, Davis made a shot, while diving to put the Gophers up two early in the period. Kelly Seeler held the second assist.
Ohio State, however, came back to tie the game with a goal in the second and another in the third period. OSU's Paige Semenza scored a short-handed goal, while the Gophers were making a power play change at 5:14 in the second period. A single assist was credited to Minttu Tuominen. The Buckeyes then tied the game at 2-2 when Shannon Reilly scored a power-play goal at 6:21 in the third, also from Tuominen.
Following OSU's second goal, Minnesota peppered Steffes with shots, firing off nine of 16 in the period. Kessel beat Steffes with a deke to the right and scored the game-winning goal at 16:51 in the third. OSU attempted a comeback, pulling Steffes with 1:10 remaining in the game. However, the Gophers did not allow a shot on goal and attempted three shots, one of which was wide, while another two were blocked.
Noora Raty collected her 24th win of the season. She ties a school record for wins in a season. She currently holds a record of 24 wins, six losses and 2 ties. She ties Jody Horak's win total, set in the 2004-05 championship season. Raty had 10 saves in the first, 15 in the second and five in the third for a three-period total of 30. Steffes had six saves in the first, 15 in the second and 14 in the third for 35 saves. She dropped to 14-19-3 on the season.