The greatest team you've never heard of

Posted by Katie Peverada

Last weekend, a Division I hockey team won its 38th consecutive game, extending the record even further past the previous best of 21 straight victories. The team is 30-0 and has only trailed in a game five times all season. Despite outscoring their opponents 168 to 127, this team is going unnoticed.
The University of Minnesota's women's hockey team is, arguably, the most underrated and dominant team the country has ever seen. Admittedly, the University of Wisconsin went 30-0-2 between 2010 and 2011, but that includes two ties. This Golden Gophers team is undefeated, having not even been pushed to overtime since their last loss a year ago, a 2-1 defeat to the University of North Dakota.
These women aren't just winning games because they get a lucky bounce from the puck. They are completely dominating. Their smallest margin of victory? Two goals, which has only happened twice against Wisconsin and in their most recent game, a 5-3 victory over Ohio State University.
Freshman forward Hannah Brandt is second in the nation in scoring, with 26 goals and 41 assists through 30 games played. Her 67 total points would, in any other year, put her in the running for the Patty Kazmir award (the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy Award in football or the Hobey Baker Award in men's ice hockey).
The only person in front of her? Amanda Kessel, junior forward from Minnesota. Kessel, the younger sister of NHL star Phil Kessel, has 40 goals and 49 assists through 29 games played. She leads the nation with 89 points in 29 games, which means she is averaging over three points a game. Kessel is threatening to break the scoring record that Natalie Darwitz set during the 2004-2005 season, when she scored 42 goals and added 72 assists in 40 games, good enough for 2.85 points a game. Darwitz, by the way, played for Minnesota as well.

Senior goaltender Noora Rooty heads up the defensive brigade, leading the nations with 28 victories and 10 shutouts, allowing just over one goal per game. With a win over Minnesota-Duluth on Feb. 2, Rooty set the NCAA career record for victories with 101. She even has one assist on the year. In any other year she too would be in the running for the Kazmir award. The team as a whole has only given up 11 power-play goals.

For a team averaging 5.6 goals per game while only allowing .90 goals per game, they are not getting nearly enough respect. Sure, the women's hockey world has recognized their hard work, as they have not been ranked below the top spot in the poll since March 5, 2012. The USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine has ranked the Gophers number one since March 13 of last year.

The Gophers are still at least eight games away from winning their second consecutive national title, but they looked poised to repeat. The team recently clinched the WCHA Conference title at the earliest point in the season a team has ever won it. With three players in the top 20 in the country for scoring, the defense playing lights-out, and the special teams unit scoring more short-handed goals than they are giving up, another title is very possible. It won't just be the women's hockey world recognizing their accomplishments. They might even make it on Sports Center.

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