MADISON, Wis. - The top-ranked Minnesota women's hockey team clinched its eighth Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular season title with a 3-2 win over No. 2 Wisconsin in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,273at LaBahn Arena Friday night.
Freshman Dani Cameranesi scored the game-winning goal with 10:58 remaining in the third period. She buried a tic-tac-toe feed from junior Rachel Ramsey )and senior Bethany Brausen )to break a 2-2 tie and give the Gophers their second lead of the game.
Junior Rachael Bona had a goal and an assist, and sophomore Milica McMillen also scored for Minnesota (29-1-1, 23-1-1-0 WCHA). The No. 1-ranked Gophers, sporting a nation's best 17-game unbeaten streak at 16-0-1, are the two-time defending national champions and wrapped up their straight WCHA title.
"It was an awesome win tonight for our club," Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. "I'm really proud of the team. This WCHA title isn't easy to win, and our kids really paid the price here tonight and deserve it."
Wisconsin (23-4-2, 19-4-2-1 WCHA) took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission after Brittany Ammerman scored a power-play goal at 8:37 of the opening frame. The Gophers killed off a 5-on-3 advantage for the Badgers, but UW found the back of the net with the 5-on-4 advantage just as senior Kelly Terry emerged from the penalty box.
"We started slow," Frost said. "It was a pretty quick pace out there, but I thought we made some great adjustments in the second and third period and got our feet under us a little bit more and started to play a little better in regards to breaking the puck out and putting more pressure on them."
Bona tied the game at 1-1 at 5:44 of the second period when she fired a shot from left of the goal crease, and it hit a Wisconsin player on its way past UW goaltender Alex Rigsby.
The teams headed into the second intermission locked in a 1-1 tie. The Gophers then took their first lead of the game with a power-play goal by McMillen on a shot through traffic from high in the slot at 3:37 of the third period. Junior Meghan Lorence and Bona picked up assists on the play.
The Badgers quickly tied the game at 2-2 with a goal by Blayre Turnbull at 5:18 of the period from Kelly Jaminski, but Cameranesi and the Gophers regained the lead and held on for their 29th victory of the season.
Sophomore goaltender Amanda Leveille )made 21 saves, while Rigsby stopped 30 shots for the Badgers.
Minnesota outshot Wisconsin, 33-23, for the game and has only lost one game over the last two seasons and has NCAA-record 43-game road winning streak. The streak dates back to a 3-0 win over Minnesota Duluth on Jan. 14, 2012. Including neutral games, Minnesota has 45-consecutive victories when playing away from Ridder Arena spanning over the last two years.
"Minnesota plays at a real high pace, so if you're going to compete with them you have to play fast and you have to take care of the puck and certainly try to not commit many penalties," UW head coach Mark Johnson said. "The three games we've played against them have been pretty similar games. The scores are a little bit different, but they found a way, the Friday game up there, to score on a late power play late in the third. And they were able to score on sort of a broken-type play midway through the third.
"That's the difference in the game."
The series concludes tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Kohl Center in front of another sellout crowd with the fourth-annual Fill-the-Bowl event.
"It's an exciting time," Johnson said. "It's an opportunity to do something very special and we appreciate all of the people coming out. It's going to be a great game. The three previous games have been good and it will be no different other than the fact that we'll have 14,000 people watching us. It will be great."