Amanda Kessel scored two goals, one shorthanded, as the No. 3-ranked Gophers defeated No. 2 Wisconsin 4-0 on Friday night in a WCHA women’s hockey game before a sellout crowd at Ridder Arena.
Amanda Leveille made 35 saves for the shutout.
“Anytime Wisconsin and Minnesota play, it’s a huge rivalry game, and we’re battling for national seeding right now as well, so it was just really cool to see the team come out the way they did,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said.
The Badgers came into the series with a 13-game unbeaten streak (12-0-1), but also with the conference regular-season title already clinched.
Wisconsin had beaten Minnesota twice in early December in Madison, 3-2 in overtime and 3-1.
But Friday, the Gophers (28-3-1, 23-3-1 WCHA) took a 2-0 lead in the first six minutes on goals by Megan Wolfe and Kessel, playing in only her fifth game after being out with lingering concussion symptoms. The Badgers outshot Minnesota 17-16 and had two power plays, including a 5-on-3 for one minute, but Leveille was solid in the net.
“Really great right from the drop of the puck,” Frost said. “We had great jump and were applying a lot of pressure Getting those two goals there was huge in the first, and then [we were] able to continue to extend throughout the game.”
Defenseman Sydney Baldwin increased the Gophers’ lead to 3-0 in the second period, scoring at 14:16.
Kessel’s second goal, at 7:36 of the third period, made it 4-0.
Wisconsin goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens, who came in with an NCAA-best 0.61 goals-against average, made 32 saves.
The five seniors on the Gophers team — forward Kessel and Hannah Brandt, defensemen Brook Garzone and Milica McMillen and Leveille — will be honored before Saturday’s game.