After winning back-to-back NCAA titles and 49 games in a row, Gophers coach Brad Frost knew it wouldn’t take long for questions to start coming about next year.
Sure enough, after his team’s 6-3 victory over Boston University in Sunday’s national title game, a reporter asked Frost if the word “dynasty” was in his vocabulary.
“I’m not a big one for dynasty talk and all that,” Frost said. “I’ll let other people do that. But obviously we’ve got a real good thing going, and it starts by recruiting great people who happen to be great hockey players, and we’ve been able to do that.”
How long will the winning streak last once the puck drops again for the Gophers in six months? That’s hard to say, but the team definitely will be missing some key players.
Outgoing seniors include two Patty Kazmaier finalists — goaltender Noora Raty and defenseman Megan Bozek — along with forwards Becky Kortum and Katie Frischmann, and defenseman Mira Jalosuo.
Frost said the Kazmaier winner, Amanda Kessel, is a lock to make next year’s U.S. Olympic team, so she’ll miss the college season, but she plans to return to the Gophers the following year. Three other potential U.S. Olympians include forward Hannah Brandt and defensemen Lee Stecklein and Milica McMillen.
So there will be holes to fill, but next year’s incoming recruiting class includes this year’s Ms. Minnesota Hockey, Dani Cameranesi (from Blake), along with three other finalists: Kate Flug (Roseville), Paige Haley (Red Wing) and Kate Schipper (Breck).
“We’ll worry about next year, next year,” Frost said. “But this team is a group that will be imprinted forever in history.”
Former boss’ approval
Frost, who won his first national coach of the year award Thursday, was an assistant coach under Laura Halldorson when the Gophers won NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005.
Halldorson, who still works for the University’s Golden Gopher Fund, gave the keynote speech at Saturday’s Patty Kazmaier Award ceremony. Afterward, she was asked what it’s been like following this year’s undefeated season.
“I’m really proud of Brad and the job he’s done and what he’s been able to instill in this team,” Halldorson said. “Because it really is hard to explain that they haven’t lost a game all year.”
Halldorson thinks the secret can be traced back to something Brandt said a few weeks ago about each player’s mind-set: “We play for each other.”
“I really think it’s more than just talent,” Halldorson said. “It’s more than just systems. You have to have those things, but they have something beyond that. Call it a will to win, call it chemistry, whatever you call it, they have it.”
• The Frozen Four all-tournament team included Raty, Bozek, Kessel, Brandt, McMillen and Boston University’s Marie-Philip Poulin. Raty was named MVP for the second straight year.
• Since the NCAA started crowning a women’s hockey champion in 2001, the WCHA has won each year. Minnesota Duluth has five titles, and Minnesota and Wisconsin have four apiece.