At 61 and counting, Gophers women's hockey winning streak evokes wonder and worry

  • Article by: DENNIS BRACKIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 15, 2013 - 12:00 PM
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The U’s 61-game win streak is the longest in major college hockey, men’s or women’s.

Photo: MARLIN LEVISON • mlevison@startribune.com,

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On the team bus, once an improbable comeback was safely in the record books, a freshman on the Gophers women’s hockey team quietly approached senior co-captain Bethany Brausen.

“She said, ‘Were you scared?’ Brausen recalled about the Gophers’ needing and getting two goals in the final 2:02 last Saturday at St. Cloud State to secure their 61st consecutive victory. “I told her I wasn’t scared — scared’s not the right word. But we were a little nervous. How can you not be?”

History hangs in the balance every time the Gophers get on the ice. Their winning streak is the longest in major college hockey, men’s or women’s.

Gophers coach Brad Frost says he “hardly ever” talks of the streak with his team or anyone else for that matter. But in those closing minutes at St. Cloud, reality flashed through his mind.

“I did think about it, real briefly, like, ‘Oh, man, we haven’t been in this position for such a long time,” Frost said.

Frost and his players this week admitted they can’t pretend the streak doesn’t exist or block it from their daily thoughts.

“Yeah, I’d say there’s a lot of bit of pressure, actually,” Brausen said. “To say that there’s not [pressure] would be a little naïve, I think.”

North Dakota, with an 8-1-1 record this season and a triple overtime loss to the Gophers in last year’s NCAA playoff quarterfinals, comes to Ridder Arena for two games this weekend. Even bitter rivals marvel at the streak.

“It’s super impressive,” North Dakota coach Brian Idalski said. “We’ve already lost [wins] this year I felt we shouldn’t have let get away. [The Gophers] haven’t done that for almost two full years, over a span of three years. They find a way to win, game in and game out.”

Not alone in history books

There have been longer college streaks. Penn State’s volleyball team won 109 consecutive matches between 2007 and 2010. The North Carolina women’s soccer team won 92 in a row (1990-94). The Connecticut women’s basketball team won 90 consecutive games (2008-10). The UCLA men’s basketball team won 88 straight games (1971-74).

But hockey is among few sports where one player — a hot goaltender — can drive wins. Baseball, with ace pitchers, is the most similar. Somewhere, sometime, a hockey team is going to run into a goalie having an incredible night, just like baseball teams are going to have to match up against an overpowering pitcher.

The longest previous winning streak in major college hockey was 30 by two men’s teams: Cornell University (1969-70) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1984-85); the longest by a women’s team was 21 by Harvard in 2008. The longest winning streak in major college baseball is 34 games, by Florida Atlantic (1999) and Texas (1977).

“It is amazing that a hockey team can stay undefeated that long when so many variables can be the difference in a win or loss,” said Lou Nanne, a former NHL player and general manager. “It is more surprising when it is accomplished at one of the highest levels of competition in their sport.”

Even the low-key Frost admits to being impressed, saying “the streak is hard to fathom.”

Getting their due

When it comes to national attention, women’s hockey is at the lower end of college sports. But the Gophers are, slowly but surely, gaining attention.

ESPN has publicized the streak. Gophers women’s basketball star Rachel Banham has tweeted about it. The New York Times has written about it. Local media outlets are amping up their coverage.

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  • Chart: College winning streaks nationally and locally

    Thursday November 14, 2013

    Streaks of noteNationallySport Team Streak YearsVolleyball Penn State 109 2007-10Women’s soccer North Carolina 92 1990-94Women’s BB Connecticut 90 2008-10Men’s BB UCLA 88 1971-74Football Oklahoma 47 1953-57LocallySport Team Streak YearsWomen’s hockey Gophers 61* (2012-current)Volleyball Concordia (St. Paul) 75* 2008-10Men’s BB Winona State 57* 2005-06Softball St. Thomas 43* 2004-05Women’s BB St. Thomas 40 1991-92*Longest in nation for...

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Tennessee 7 2nd Qtr 7:58
Jacksonville 0
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 45 3rd Qtr
Chicago 52
New Orleans 29 2nd Qtr 8:08
Houston 31
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Golden State
Florida 1 3rd Prd 8:44
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 3rd Prd 6:37
Pittsburgh 0
Toronto 1 3rd Prd 9:41
Carolina 2
Washington 3 3rd Prd 11:27
Columbus 3
Anaheim 1 2nd Prd 12:24
Montreal 0
St. Louis 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Edmonton 9:30 PM
San Jose
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 2nd Half 1:17
Louisiana Tech 76
Morgan State 42 2nd Half 4:22
Rider 55
Idaho State 60 1st OT
South Dakota St 60
Oakland City 30 2nd Half 14:05
Austin Peay 49
Eureka 29 2nd Half 15:09
Bradley 53
Appalachian St 41 2nd Half 14:30
Charlotte 43
Connecticut 30 2nd Half 18:16
Duke 30
Southern Miss 17 2nd Half 19:22
Jackson State 40
Coastal Carolina 51 2nd Half 13:26
Ole Miss 40
Montana State 26 1st Half 2:25
South Dakota 25
LSU 11 1st Half 12:27
UAB 19
Ohio 12 1st Half 14:50
Evansville 10
CS-Dominguez 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Walla Walla 9:00 PM
Idaho
DePaul 9:00 PM
Oregon State
Nevada 9:00 PM
Pacific
Portland State 9:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Bakersfield 9:05 PM
Utah State
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 19 2nd Half
Tulane 26
New Orleans 27 2nd Half 17:37
Tulsa 41
Incarnate Word 28 2nd Half 15:54
TX-Pan American 32
Ark-Little Rock 17 2nd Half 13:57
South Dakota St 44
CS-Northridge 37 1st Half 0:17
Northern Ariz 43
Santa Clara 15 1st Half 12:55
Oregon 11
(19) Oklahoma St 9 1st Half 14:08
Weber State 8
Washington 10 1st Half 12:28
San Diego State 9
Cal Poly 16 1st Half 11:32
New Mexico 13
(10) Louisville 14 1st Half 14:41
Grand Canyon 7
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2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
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