MINNEAPOLIS - The No. 1 Minnesota women's hockey team's historic winning streak came to an end Sunday afternoon as the Gophers suffered a 3-2 loss to No. 4 North Dakota in front of 2,435 fans at Ridder Arena. With the loss, Minnesota's winning streak ended at an NCAA-record 62 consecutive wins.
"For everybody who has been a part of it, it's been a really special thing," head coach Brad Frost said of the winning streak. "I think they helped grow the game of women's hockey here in Minnesota and nation-wide, and that's a huge testament to them. There was a lot of pressure, a lot of media attention and a lot of excitement every time we stepped on the ice, which was great, but it's over, and we're happy to have been a part of it."
Senior Sarah Davis (Paradise, N.L.) and junior Rachael Bona (Coon Rapids, Minn.) each recorded two points for the Gophers, and Susanna Tapani led North Dakota with one goal and one assist.
Minnesota (13-1-0, 11-1-0-0 WCHA) trailed 3-0 after allowing three first-period goals for the first time since surrendering three in the opening period against Minnesota Duluth in a 4-2 loss on Jan. 13, 2012. North Dakota (9-2-1, 7-2-1-1 WCHA) received tallies from Kayla Gardner and Gracen Hirschy before Tapani buried a power-play goal at 12:39 of the first to give UND the 3-0 lead.
"We played a really poor first period tonight, and it ends up costing you a hockey game," Frost said. "We've been able to get away with it periodically, even last week against St. Cloud, we were down 2-1 after one, and we were able to climb back and win. Against a really quality opponent like that, it makes it a little tougher.
"I know our kids are sad, I think a little bit because the streak is over, but more because we gave up three points here tonight to a good club. We never like to lose, in particular at home."
The Gophers cut the deficit to one with a pair of power-play goals during the second period. Junior Rachel Ramsey (Chanhassen, Minn.) buried a feed from Davis and Bona at 1:50 of the second period before Davis converted on a power-play opportunity of her own with 10:45 to play in the period.
Minnesota outshot North Dakota, 34-24, for the game and owned a 13-8 advantage in the third period, but the Gophers were unable to solve North Dakota goaltender Lexie Shaw for the game-tying goal.
"I'm really proud of our kids and how they came back in the second and the third," Frost said. "We had chance after chance and near misses and those types of things, but you just can't play 40 minutes of hockey and expect to win. So, we're not sad because it's over, we're happy because we were a part of it. I'll tip my hat to anybody who can go to 62 or 63 games without a loss."
Shaw finished with 32 saves for UND, while sophomore Amanda Leveille (Kingston, Ont.) made 21 saves for the Gophers.
Minnesota was 2-for-5 on the power play, and North Dakota converted on its lone opportunity in the first period. With its historic winning streak, Minnesota bested the previous NCAA Division I women's hockey winning streak (21, Harvard) and unbeaten streak (32, Wisconsin, twice), along with surpassing the NCAA Division I men's hockey winning streak (30, RPI and Cornell) and unbeaten streak (38, RPI) records.
The Gophers started and ended their streak against North Dakota as the historic run began with a 5-2 win over UND on Feb. 28, 2012 and ended with today's 3-2 loss. North Dakota was also the last team to defeat the Gophers as UND topped Minnesota 2-1 in overtime on Feb. 17, 2012.
The Gophers are still riding a 35-game road winning streak, which began Jan. 14, 2012, as they travel to Hamden, Conn., for a non-conference series at Yale next weekend. The teams face off at 3 p.m. CT next Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 24.