On Feb. 17, 2012, the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team lost to the University of North Dakota.
The Gophers didn’t lose another game until Sunday.
After a couple of national championships and 62 wins for Minnesota, the same team that marked the beginning of the streak ended it.
“We’re not sad because it’s over; we’re happy because we were a part of it,” Gophers head coach Brad Frost said after Sunday’s 3-2 loss to North Dakota. “I’ll tip my hat to anybody who can go to 62 or 63 games without a loss.”
Before Minnesota started its streak, the best Division I women’s hockey winning streak was 21 games.
“When you’re in the midst of something like this, you don’t really think about it. It’s hard to quantify,” Frost said. “I think when I’m old and gray and looking back on when I coached the Gophers, this will be a real special thing.”
Senior captain Bethany Brausen said the locker room was emotional after the game, but she tried to “pull it together” for the rest of the team.
North Dakota jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first period, and Frost said his team was “outmuscled” and “outworked” during the frame.
North Dakota came out the way the Gophers expected them to, Frost said, but his team didn’t come out like he expected it would.
“We just played a real poor first period tonight, and it ends up costing [us] a hockey game,” he said. “We’ve been able to get away with it periodically … but against a really quality opponent like that, it makes it a little tougher.”
Minnesota responded in the second two periods, looking markedly better than in the first. Junior defenseman Rachel Ramsey scored on a power-play blast from the blue line 1:50 into the second period to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Gophers’ second goal came from senior forward Sarah Davis, who won a fight for a loose puck in front of the net and sent in the Gophers’ second power-play goal of the game.
But two goals weren’t enough to overcome the team’s poor first period.
Frost said he told his team after the game that success is “looking yourself in the mirror and asking yourself [if] you gave everything you could for yourself and for your teammates.”
“Unfortunately, I think there’s going to be a lot of sad girls looking in the mirror tonight because they know that they didn’t give everything they had for the full 60 minutes,” he said.
Frost said he was expecting the Gophers to score late and that the team was expecting it, too. He said he was proud of the way his team generated chances until the final buzzer.
North Dakota captain Michelle Karvinen said her team had something to prove Sunday after the way Saturday’s game played out.
“We didn’t feel good after last night, but we looked at some video and got together as a team,” she said. “We came back today, [and] I think it proved a lot about what kind of team we are.”
On Saturday, senior Kelly Terry set the tone for the Gophers by using her speed to create a breakaway. In all alone, she deked North Dakota’s goalie for a goal.
Sophomore Hannah Brandt said Saturday that she thought Terry’s goal got the team going.
Minnesota dominated the second period, scoring four goals to put the game out of reach, and won 6-1.
Freshman Megan Wolfe, a natural forward who’s been playing defense this year, scored the team’s second and third goals.
Wolfe was starting at forward for the first time this season, and the goals were the first and second of her college career.
“We’ve got a lot of shuffling players, a lot of versatility going on,” Brausen said Saturday. “And you can see how key it is that those players do come out and play as well as they [have been].”
Though the score indicated a blowout Saturday, North Dakota outshot the Gophers 35-30.
“It wasn’t a 6-1 game,” Frost said, “but when we get some momentum, in particular at home with our crowd behind us, it makes our team pretty hard to stop.”
The Gophers will head back on the road to take on Yale next weekend in New Haven, Conn.
“We always talked about how the streak wasn’t our focus, and now it can truly be out of our heads,” Brausen said Sunday. “It’s not something we’re going to be thinking about day in and day out, so while it’s a curse, it’s a blessing.”