The University of Minnesota women's hockey 62 game winning streak came to an end Sunday afternoon when the Gophers (13-1-0, 11-1-0-0 WCHA) fell 3-2 to North Dakota at Ridder Arena.
"I know our kids are sad. I think a little bit because the streak is over but more because we gave up 3 points here tonight to a good club," Gopher head coach Brad Frost said after the game. "We never like to lose, particularly at home."
North Dakota (9-2-1, 7-2-1-1 WCHA) started strongly Sunday, a day after losing 6-1, by creating turnovers and peppering UMN goalie Amanda Leveille. UND out-shot Minnesota 7-0 in the first 10 minutes of the game. Further putting the Gophers in an early hole was the fact that 3 of those went in past Leveille.
Kayla Gardner got North Dakota on the board 6:12 into the game with a shot in the slot. Three minutes later Gracen Hirschy scored her fourth goal of the season while Susanna Tapani tapped in her fourth goal on the power play to give North Dakota a 3-0 lead 12:39 into the first period.
"I thought our kids, we bounced back and shrugged (Saturday) off," said North Dakota head coach Brian Isalski, who was behind the bench the last time Minnesota lost - a 2-1 overtime defeat February 17, 2012. "We knew that wasn't us and had a much better effort today."
The Gophers took a timeout after the third goal and fully regrouped following intermission. Defenseman Rachel Ramsey scored her 6th goal of the season on the power play just 1:50 into the second period. Senior forward Sarah Davis made it 3-2 7:25 later with her 8th goal of the season on a 5th or 6th effort in front of the net just ten seconds into a North Dakota penalty.
The power play was where Minnesota had its best effort Sunday, going 2-5 and scoring both goals. However, North Dakota goalie Lexie Shaw shut down a potent Gophers offense when UND needed it most. The freshman from Troy, Michigan made 32 saves while stopping Minnesota's effort to get a third goal that at times seemed inevitable.
"I think that going into the second we were looking to build our confidence," Minnesota captain Bethany Brausen said. "We were ready to go out there. You could just see the momentum swing. You could see the plays happening and the goals swinging momentum. I think when we had that same mentality and we could tell that fans thought that."
Chances by Minnesota forwards Brook Garzone and Kelly Terry went just wide of Shaw and North Dakota clamped fown when Johanna Fallman was in the box for tripping. Still, the Gophers and 2,435 in attendance at Ridder Arena were waiting for the comeback to be completed like it had 62 times beforehand.
That didn't happen.
Instead, North Dakota skated off the bench to celebrate as the clock hit zero. For once not playing a full sixty minutes was not enough.
"I'm very proud of how our team played in the second and the third," Brausen said. I think we were the better team in those two periods, but unfortunately hockey can go either way and tonight it favored North Dakota."
As for the loss, it closes the longest win streak in college hockey. Frost joked that he'll be happy to look back on it when he's old, but at the same time there is a long season ahead for Minnesota.
"We're not sad because it's over. We're happy we're a part of it," he said. " I'll tip my hat to anybody that can go to 62, 63 games without a loss."
NORTH DAKOTA - Kayla Gardner (2) (Unassisted 6:12)
NORTH DAKOTA - Gracen Hirschy (4) (Michelle Karvine, Susanna Tapani 10:34)
NORTH DAKOTA - Susanna Tapani (4) (Meghan Dufault, Halli Krzyzaniak 12:39 PP)
MINNESOTA - Rachel Ramsey (6) (Sarah Davis, Rachel Bona 1:50 PP)
MINNESOTA - Sarah Davis (8) (Kate Schipper, Bona 9:15 PP)
North Dakota 8 - 8 - 8 -- 24
Minnesota 7 - 14 - 13 --34
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate