No. 1 Minnesota, on the hunt for a third straight NCAA title, will head into the playoffs on a high note.
The Gophers swept rival Minnesota-Duluth at home with two dominating 6-0 wins over the weekend.
This weekend built on the momentum from last weekend, when Minnesota swept No. 2 Wisconsin on the road.
“[We’re] coming away with three shutouts here in the last three games against pretty good teams,” head coach Brad Frost said. “We’re as healthy as we’re going to be, so that’s a positive going [into the playoffs].”
Friday night, sophomore forward Maryanne Menefee recorded her first collegiate hat trick.
Menefee got Minnesota’s offense going Friday in the first period with two backhanded goals.
“[Frost] usually tells me to keep off my backhand,” she said. “This season, I’ve been using it a little too much, but luckily today, it was working for me.”
Gophers senior forward Sarah Davis solidified her team’s lead with two goals early in the second period. And junior Meghan Lorence added a goal before Menefee completed her hat trick.
“I told her that the hat trick only counts if she gets the third one on the backhand, so in my opinion, she didn’t get the hat trick,” Davis joked.
Menefee also added an assist in the game and another goal in Saturday’s game.
“She’s been quiet so far this year and still has  goals. This was a big night for her to get that hat trick,” Frost said Friday after the game. “And hopefully, it brings a little more confidence.”
It was a physical game Friday, and 13 penalties were called between the two teams, including five roughing minors.
“Duluth’s a gritty team, and you can tell there’s kind of some bad blood there,” Davis said Friday. “I think that’s what makes it so competitive.”
That physical play continued Saturday as each team was whistled for a five-minute major and game misconduct.
“They’re probably just about the most physical team we’ve played all year,” senior captain Bethany Brausen said Saturday. “As long as we all got our heads and legs … still attached after that, I think we came out on [the] good end of it.”
The Gophers cashed in four times on the power play Saturday night.
And sophomore goaltender Amanda Leveille faced just 10 shots Saturday en route to her NCAA-best 13th shutout of the season.
“She wasn’t really tested all night, which is perfect for us,” Frost said.
Though Saturday was senior night, the Gophers still have the playoffs to look forward to.
“We have another notch that we can push a little bit farther here,” Ramsey said. “We’re really excited to see exactly what that is once playoffs start next weekend, but this is the best we’ve played so far.”
Minnesota finished its regular season 32-1-1.
“After what we lost last year, I don’t think anybody saw us going through the WCHA [just] losing one game and tying a game,” Frost said.
The Gophers lost All-Americans Noora Räty, Amanda Kessel and Megan Bozek, along with defensemen Lee Stecklein and Mira Jalosuo, among others, from last year’s roster. Those five players all competed for their respective countries in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“After our first weekend at Colgate, I think everybody was wondering what the season would bring,” Frost said. “They’ve just continued to grow as a team.”
The Gophers will take on St. Cloud State next weekend in the WCHA First-Round.