'U' women cap undefeated season by topping Boston U for national title
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This wasn't just another title game. Minnesota had the sport's first perfect season in sight.
This women's hockey championship even generated enough buzz to produce a few ticket scalpers outside.
Amanda Kessel scored twice, and the Gophers beat Boston University 6-3 on Sunday to become the first undefeated team in the 13-year history of NCAA women's hockey.
"We made the impossible possible," said Kessel, the sister of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel. "It goes to everyone on our team. It's not just one or two people."
Mira Jalosuo, Hannah Brandt, Milica McMillen and Rachel Ramsey also scored for the Gophers (41-0), who won their second successive national championship - and fourth overall - and stretched their record winning streak to 49 games. Their last loss was to North Dakota on Feb. 17, 2012, more than 13 months ago.
"I don't think a lot of us focused on the record, which was nice," defender Megan Bozek said. "There was a bigger task at hand. It was just great that our nerves didn't get the best of us."
Sarah Lefort of Ormstown, Que., Marie-Philip Poulin of Beauceville, Que., and Winnipeg's Jenelle Kohanchuk had goals for the Terriers (28-6-3), whose 10-game winning streak ended. They also lost in the title game in 2011.
Three Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams have won all 13 championships. Minnesota Duluth has five and Wisconsin has four.
Noora Raty made 21 saves for the Gophers, who never trailed after needing overtime to outlast Boston College in the semi-finals and triple overtime to top North Dakota in the quarter-finals. This was more like most of Minnesota's regular season matchups. The Gophers trailed in only a handful of games while cruising through the WCHA.
Now they've made a convincing case as the best team ever in this young sport. Wisconsin went 36-1-4 in 2007 and 37-2-2 in 2011 to win national titles, but never has one school dominated from October through March quite like this Minnesota bunch.
Raty, the senior from Finland, proudly held up her jersey No. 41 - matching her team's win total - at the podium for the news conference afterward. She never gave up more than three goals this season and only did so three times.
Kessel, who won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award on Saturday as the top player in the country, added two assists. Maryanne Menefee had three helpers, and Ramsey had two.
Kessel finished her junior year with 46 goals and 55 assists. Raty and Bozek were the other finalists for the Kazmaier honour. Raty received the Most Outstanding Player award for the NCAA tournament.
The capacity crowd of 3,400 at cozy Ridder Arena, home ice for the Gophers, chanted "Perfect season! Perfect season!" as the final seconds ticked down before the entire Gophers team flung helmets and sticks in the air on the way to pile on Raty in celebration in front of the net. The game sold out weeks ago.© The Associated Press