There are a lot of huge rivalries in college sports.
Michigan vs. Ohio State in football, or maybe Alabam vs. Auburn, Southern Cal vs. UCLA.
Or in men's basketball, North Carolina vs. Duke, or in women's Connecticut vs. Notre Dame.
But when it comes to women's hockey, the biggest has to be the Gophers vs. Wisconsin. And you know what they say about rivalry games: Throw out the records, anything can happen when two revved up teams meet.
That is what is so amazing about the Gophers' recent dominance of the Badgers.The U is 15-0-2 against Wisconsin in their past 17 meetings with a 14-game winning streak until a tie in their last meeting. Got to grate at the Badgers a lot.
Every time they have met since the Gophers' streak began -- until the last three meetings this season -- one or the other has been the No. 1 team in the country and the other always in the top 10, usually high up.
Given the elite level of both programs, I daresay, this streak actually is more impressive than the Gophers going 41-0 in 2012-13; they were favored to win almost every night and did.
Not so in this streak. Five times in the past 17 games, Wisconsin was the higher rated team, in each case, rated No. 1. Didn't matter, though. Coach Brad Frost's players found a way to win (except for two ties).
Here is a detailed look at the Gophers' dominance -- starting with the last game Wisconsin won in the series to add perspective:
Nov. 14, 2011: No. 1 Wisconsin 3, No. 3 Gophers 2 at Kohl Center in Madison: Badgers scored twice in the first four minutes and led 3-0 after first period. With win, they tied the NCAA record for longest unbeaten streak, 32 games. (Minnesota shattered it two dayy later.) ... Gophers goalie Noora Raty made 14 saves in first period, 25 in game. ... Anne Schleper and Rachael Bona had Gophers' goals. ... Wisconsin had 28-27 edge in shots.
Nov. 16, 2011: No. 3 Gophers 3, No. 1 Wisconsin 2 at Kohl Center: Goals by Sarah Davis in first and Meghan Lorence in second gave U a 2-0 lead. Badgers ralled to tie score, but Amanda Kessel scored nine minutes into third period to win it. ... Raty had 25 saves, 14 in the second. ... Gophers' unbeaten streak vs. Badgers starts.
Jan. 4, 2012: No. 2 Gophers 3, No. 1 Wisconsin 3, OT, tie (Badgers win shootout 1-0) at Ridder: The Badgers led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2. But Anne Schleper, Jen Schoullis and Megan Bozek scored goals for Minnesota to keep tying it. Bozek, a defenseman, scored on a power play with 2:08 in the third period. ... Raty had 34 saves. ... Hilary Knight, the sixth shooter in the shootout, scored the first goal to give Wisconsin an extra point in the WCHA standings, but officially, game was a tie. ... Shots were 41-37 for Gophers.
Jan. 5, 2012: No. 2 Gophers 1, No. 1 Wisconsin 0 at Ridder: Senior defenseman scored goal 6:31 into game. ... Raty had 32 saves for shutout; Wisconsin had not been shut oout since Feb. of 2010. ... U had 42-32 edge in shots. ... Gophers now 2-0-1 vs. Badgers in past three games.
March 18, 2012: No. 2 Gophers 4, No. 1 Wisconsin 2 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth in NCAA title game: Gophers took a 2-0 lead in first, the Badgers tied it. But Emily West scored on a penalty shot with 1:32 left in opening period to give U a 3-2 lead. ... Sarah Erickson made it 4-2 early in third period with her second goal of the game. Amanda Kessel had other goal for Gophers. ... Noora Raty made 42 saves and was named women's Frozen Four MVP. .... Shots were 44-25 for Badgers, 20-9 in third period. ... This was first title for U since 2005. ... Gophers finish season 34-5-2, Badgers at 33-5-2 had nearly same mark. ... Gophers on 3-0-1 streak vs. Wisconsin.
Dec. 1, 2012: No. 1 Gophers 4, No. 10 Wisconsin 1 at Ridder: Minnesota scored four goals in second period. Maryanne Menefee had the first, then Amanda Kessel and Sarah Davis scored in the middle of the period, 1:06 apart, and Becky Kortum had final goal. ... Badgers scored in third period. ... Win was 25th in a row for Gophers and made them 17-0 this season. ... Gophers had 41-23 edge in shots; Raty made 22 stops.
Dec. 2, 2012:No.1 Gophers 2, No. 10 Wisconsin 0 at Ridder: Finnish defenseman Mira Jalosuo broke a scoreless tie at 9:14 of the third period on a power play. Amanda Kessel added an empty-netter with 10 seconds left. ... Raty made 19 saves for the shutout. Shots were 38-19 for U. ... Last Gophers sweep of Wisconsin was Jan. 29-30, 2005.
Jan. 25, 2013: No. 1 Gophers 2, No. 8 Wisconsin 0 at LaBahn Arena: Gophers took a 2-0 lead in first period of this games. Hannah Brandt scored at 4:28 and Jalosuo at 18:02 on a power play. ... The win was the Gophers 33rd in a row, breaking Wisconsin's NCAA record for longest unbeaten streak (32). ... Gave Gophers 25-0 record. ... Shots were 35-25 for U; Raty made 25 saves for 99th career win, one shy of NCAA record.
Jan. 26, 2013: No. 1 Gophers 5, No. 8 Wisconsin 1 at LaBahn Arena: Becky Kortum and Hannah Brandt scored for Minnesota in first period, Kelly Terry in second and Rachel Ramsey and Megan Bozek in third. ... Shots were 39-23 for U. Raty had 22 saves. ... Raty got her 100th career win, tying NCAA record. ... U swept Wisconsin in season series for first time since 1999-2000, and swept a series in Madison for first time since 2003-04. ... Gophers on 7-0-1 roll over Badgers.
(Gophers finished season 41-0, beating Boston University 6-3 for second NCAA title in a row.)
Oct. 11, 2013: No. 1 Gophers 2, No. 4 Wisconsin 1 at Ridder: All three goals in game came on power plays. Maryanne Menefee had goal for Gophers in first period, which ended with the score 1-1. Milica McMillen scored at 7:12 of the third. ... Shots were 35-23 for Wisconsin, but sophomore Amanda Leveille made 34 stops for Minnesota, 18 in the second period. ... Badgers were 1-for-4 on the power play with nine shots, Gophers 2-for-3 with seven.
Oct. 12, 2013: No. 1 Gophers 2, No. 4 Wisconsin 0 at Ridder: Kelly Terry had both goals, at 5:42 and 13:30 of third. Dani Cameranesi had one of the assists on each. ... Shots were 33-27 for Gophers; Leveille got the shutout with 27 saves.
Feb. 14, 2014: No. 1 Gophers 3, No. 2 Wisconsin 2 at Kohl Center: Rachael Bona scored in second period and Milica McMillen at 3:37 on a power play in third to put Gophers ahead 2-1. The Badgers tied it at 5:18, but Dani Cameranesi scored the game-winner at 9:02. ... Gophers blocked 17 shots; U had 33-23 edge in shots on goal. ... Leveille stopped 21 shots.
Feb. 15, 2014: No. 1 Gophers 4, No. 2 Wisconsin 0 at Kohl Center: This game was heavily promoted and brought out an NCAA record 13,573 for a women's game. Kelly Terry and Hannah Brandt scored in the second period for the Gophers and Bethany Brauser and Meghan Lorence in the third. Leveille stopped 24 shots for save. Win gave Minnesota 30-1-1 record.
March 21, 2014: No. 1 Gophers 5, No. 4 Wisconsin 3 in Hamden, Conn., in Frozen Four semifinals: After a scoreless opening period, both teams scored twice in the second. Kelly Terry and Maryanne Menefee, on a power play, had the Gophers' goals. Brandt broke the tie on a power-play goal at 5:57 of the third. Rachael Bona made it 4-2 at 8:06 and Baylee Gillanders 5-2 at 12:32. Minnesota outscored the Badgers 3-0 in the third but only had an 11-8 edge in shots on goal.
Oct. 17, 2014: No. 2 Gophers 4, No. 1 Wisconsin 1 at LaBahn Center: Brandt gave the Gophers a 1-0 lead on a shorthanded goal at 6:46 of the opening period. The Badgers tie the score, but 1:10 later, Dani Cameranesi makes is 2-1 at 9:34 with the first of her three goals. With one second left in period, Cameranesi puts Minnesota ahead 3-1. She completes her hat trick with 40 seconds left in the second to make it 4-1. Amanda Leveille had 23 saves for the Gophers, who had a 26-24 edge in shots on goal.
Oct. 18, 2014: No. 2 Gophers 2, No. 1 Wisconsin 1 (OT) at LaBahn Center: This is a game the Badgers should have won. They took a 1-0 lead in the middle of the second period and held the lead until Rachael Bona of the Gophers scored with 1:28 left in the third. Defenseman Rachel Ramsey's goal at four minutes of overtime extended the U's winning streak over Wisconsin. Amanda Leveille made a career-high 40 saves for the Gophers. Ann-Renee Desbiens had 33 for the Badgers. ... Gophers were 1x6 on power play, Badgers 1x5, so both teams had chances to win in regulation.
Jan. 10, 2015: No. 2 Gophers 4, No. 3 Wisconsin 1 at Ridder: First time since U's streak began one of these teams was not No. 1 when these rivals met. Cara Piazza gave Gophers 1-0 lead in the first. After Wisconsin tied it in the second, Hannah Brandt put Gophers ahead at 15:54. Gophers got two more goals in third, Cameranesi at 5:23 and Brandt at 14:17. U had 31- 24 edge in shorts. Leveille had 23 saves.
Jan. 11, 2015: No. 2 Gophers 1, No. 3 Wisconsin 1, OT, tie, at Ridder: Although this game officially counts as a tie, the Gophers got an extra point in the WCHA standings because they won the shootout 1-0. Hannah Brandt, the Gophers' first shootout, got a goal but nobody else did. In regulation, Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead with 22 seconds left in the second. The Gophers tied it on Brandt's goal at 13:38 of the third. Leveille had 32 saves -- four more than Ann-Renee Desbiens of Wisconsin. Minnesota had only five shots on goal in overtime.
March 20, 2015: No. 2 Gophers vs. No. 3 Wisconsin at Rider in Frozen Four semifinal.
Can the Gophers find another way to win Saturday? Sure seems like an improbable streak.