Sun Valley's Hilary Knight did everything she could to guide the defending national champ Wisconsin Badgers to another NCAA Division 1 women's ice hockey title Sunday in the 2012 finale before 2,439 spectators at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minn.
But Wisconsin's all-time leading scorer and goal scorer Knight, 22, and her top-seeded teammates ran into a very hot goaltender in the person of the NCAA's top goalie this winter—Minnesota junior Noora Raty from Finland.
Despite being outshot 44-25, Minnesota prevailed 4-2.
Raty, Finland's bronze medal goalie in the 2010 Winter Olympics, made 42 saves and stopped 62 of 65 shots in both Minnesota wins during the four-team Frozen Four finals. She ended her season with 33 victories (10 shutouts) and a 1.33 goals-against average. She was voted the Frozen Four's Most Outstanding Player.
Minnesota (34-5-2) captured its first national title since two straight in 2004 and 2005 and had a 3-1-1 advantage in five games against Wisconsin, a program that has won four of the last six national championships starting with a 3-0 win over Minnesota in 2006.
Wisconsin won the first of the five meetings against the Gophers this season 3-2 way back on Oct. 14, then was winless in the last four clashes.
Knight, Wisconsin's 5-10, 172-pound senior captain, helped put the Badgers (33-5-2) back into the title game.
She scored the game-winning goals in Wisconsin's 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Mercyhurst and the 6-2 semi-final rout of No. 4 Boston College. Her game winner, shorthanded, against Mercyhurst was her fourth shorthanded goal of the season and ninth career shorthanded goal, both Badger records. Knight led the nation with 10 game winners this winter and had a school-record 30 game winners.
Knight (31 goals, 29 assists for 60 points in 40 games, 3rd on the team) finished her four-year career with a record 143 goals and 119 assists for 262 points.
This year's Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner, junior Brianna Decker of Wisconsin (a team-high 37 goals and 82 points) would need 79 points next season to eclipse Knight's career scoring record.
Knight also broke her own school record with 311 shots in 40 games this winter. She scored 45, 47 and 31 Badger goals the past three seasons.
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