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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published November 17 2013

UND snaps Gophers' 62-game winning streak

GRAND FORKS – The longest winning streak in college hockey history is over.

The University of North Dakota women’s hockey team ended Minnesota’s NCAA-record, 62-game run on Sunday afternoon, beating the Gophers 3-2 in front of 2,435 fans in Ridder Arena.

It was Minnesota’s first loss since Feb. 17, 2012, when UND knocked off the Gophers in overtime.

“We all knew we could do it,” freshman goalie Lexie Shaw said. “We knew we were going to come out with a win. We’re a really tight-knit team. We’ve been working hard. We weren’t even looking for, ‘Let’s end the streak.’ It was just another game. We expected to win because we have been doing well.”

Fourth-ranked UND (9-2-1) stormed to a 3-0 lead in the opening period on goals by three rookies –Kayla Gardner, Gracen Hirschy and Susanna Tapani. Then, behind Shaw’s career-high 32 saves, UND was able to hold on for victory.

At the buzzer, UND players raised their arms and skated to Shaw to celebrate.

“Just extremely happy,” UND forward Michelle Karvinen said. “Playing a game like that against the Gophers and winning, it’s just a bonus to end their streak. But I’m just extremely happy and so excited for the future.”

The Gophers (13-1) slowly skated off as their fans saluted their streak with a standing ovation.

After the game, UND coach Brian Idalski stoically called the game a “solid road win.” But it was much more than that.

UND finally got over the hump and knocked off the No. 1 Gophers after a couple of close calls, most notably the triple-overtime game in the NCAA quarterfinals last season.

It also was a notable response from a UND team that was blown out 6-1 a day earlier.

“We talked for about a week and a half about our mindset,” Idalski said. “We were really, honestly not very good the night before. To be able to shake that off, execute and do what we needed to do – especially in the defensive zone, where it was night and day – that’s what I was most proud of.”

Gopher coach Brad Frost posted a lengthy note on Twitter after the game.

“It was an incredible run,” Frost said. “To go 639 days without a loss and 62 games was truly remarkable and special. I am so proud of our current players, staff and the three teams of former players who were all part of this streak.

“The game has grown and we are very proud of that. We will learn from tonight and continue with our ultimate goals for the season.”

UND jumped all over the Gophers in the first period.

Gardner gave UND a 1-0 lead at the 6-minute, 12-second mark, finding a puck in the slot area and sniping the glove-side corner of the net. Hirschy added to UND’s lead blasting a point shot through traffic at 10:34.

Frost called timeout after that goal, but it didn’t help. UND tacked on a third goal on a power play at 12:39, when Tapani found a rebound sitting in the crease.

The Gophers stormed back in the second, carrying the play and potting a pair of power-play goals by Rachel Ramsey and Sarah Davis to cut UND’s lead to 3-2 with just over 30 minutes left in the game.

But Shaw, starting her third-career game, didn’t allow anything the rest of the way.

“I remember looking at the clock as it was counting down,” Shaw said. “One of our defensemen came back and told me, ‘Shaw, this has to be the best six minutes of your life.’ At that point, I was like, ‘Let’s go.’”

UND was content with clogging up the neutral zone and icing the puck the rest of the way.

“We pretty much know where we’re at as a team,” Shaw said. “We know that we can beat any team on any given day.”

On Sunday, UND proved it.

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald