MADISON, WIS. - Once the Gophers women's hockey team had claimed the NCAA record for longest unbeaten streak -- their 33rd consecutive game without a loss came Friday in a 2-0 victory at Wisconsin, the team that previously held the record -- players quietly gathered near their net, slapping hands and helmets.
After all, breaking records is nothing new for this Gophers team.
"I don't want to say its becoming old hat, but it's not as important as maybe people think," coach Brad Frost said. "Now that it's happened, we'll sit back and just think about another record in the NCAA record books, but it really isn't our focus."
Instead, the spotlight for the top-ranked Gophers -- who already had claimed the NCAA record for consecutive victories two months ago with their 22nd in a row -- was directed squarely at another accomplishment: beating the rival No. 8 Badgers in Madison, where Minnesota hasn't escaped a series without a loss since 2004. How fitting, then, that the Gophers literally had to beat Wisconsin in front of an announced crowd of 1,791 to top the Badgers' streak.
Wisconsin completed 32-game undefeated streaks (including ties) twice: in 2007 and in 2010-11, when the Gophers were the ones to end it. Given the opportunity to return the favor, the Badgers couldn't quite muster the strength to end the Gophers' run, which consists of 33 victories and no ties.
"There's no other team I would have rather played this weekend than Wisconsin," Gophers goalie Noora Raty said. "They bring the best out of our team."
It certainly appeared that way. The Gophers showered Wisconsin goalie Alex Rigsby with 35 shots, scored twice in the first period and then clamped down on defense through the final two.
Freshman Hannah Brandt started the scoring 4 minutes, 28 seconds in. Off a 3-on-2 break featuring some deft passing, Brandt snuck the puck between Rigsby's legs to put Minnesota on top 1-0.
"I was actually thinking about going up and then I kind of had to look down because I fumbled with it and then I just tried to get the shot on net," Brandt said. "That wasn't necessarily where I was aiming for but it went in, so that's all that really matters."
The Gophers got their second goal on a 5-on-3 power play when Rachel Ramsey got the puck to defenseman Mira Jalosuo, who scored on a one-timer from the left faceoff circle.
From there, it was just defense for the Gophers, who have only given up 19 goals this season while scoring 142. Raty handled all 25 shots she faced for her 99th career victory and 36th shutout, putting the senior one away from matching the NCAA record for career victories and three from tying the record for shutouts.
For now, in the midst of a long season where the Gophers have other goals -- such as winning their second consecutive NCAA title -- breaking the unbeaten record was simply a step along the way, a landmark the players seemed happy to attain if only because the pressure and questions about doing so would pass.
Still, the Gophers realize the significance of what this team has done so far, and how special it will be some day.
"Right now, it doesn't mean that much," Jalosuo said. "But maybe in [the future], you can look back and say to your grandchildren, 'I was part of that team that broke that record.'"