Last Monday, they stood on the South Lawn, listening to President Obama praise them for last year’s perfect season. On Saturday, the Gophers hoisted their sticks in the air, soaking in cheers from their home crowd after earning yet another trip to the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four.
A magical three-year ride continued for coach Brad Frost’s team, as the Gophers got a hat trick from senior center Kelly Terry in a 5-1 victory over Boston University in front of an announced crowd of 2,606 at Ridder Arena.
Terry scored the game-winning goal in last year’s triple-overtime thriller against North Dakota in the NCAA quarterfinals at Ridder. This time, she made sure the ticket to the Frozen Four came with far less suspense.
The two-time defending national champions were fairly businesslike as they celebrated the victory, gathering for a big group hug near their bench without any gloves or sticks thrown into the air.
“We haven’t won anything,” junior defenseman Rachel Ramsey said. “Hopefully next week, we will be throwing the gloves.”
The top-seeded Gophers (37-1-1) will meet Wisconsin, a 2-1 quarterfinal winner over Harvard, in next Friday’s NCAA semifinals in Hamden, Conn. Clarkson will meet Mercyhurst in the other semifinal.
Boston University (24-13-1) missed a chance to avenge its 6-3 loss to the Gophers in last year’s NCAA championship game. Amanda Leveille made 28 saves for the Gophers, who extended their latest unbeaten streak to 25 games.
Terry scored the game’s first goal at 12:56 of the first period, and 21 seconds later, Sarah Lefort answered with a slapshot goal for the Terriers.
“I don’t think this [Gophers] team gets rattled too much,” BU coach Brian Durocher said. “That’s a credit to the kids that are playing here for the University of Minnesota. They showed it again today.”
It was still 1-1 midway through the second period, when Boston University took two penalties, giving the Gophers a 5-on-3 advantage.
The Gophers had been scoreless on their first three power-play opportunities, but Ramsey grabbed a loose puck and whistled a wrist shot over goalie Kerrin Sperry’s left shoulder for a 2-1 lead.
“That is the second 5-on-3 that we’ve had all year, which is kind of crazy,” Frost said. “It wasn’t how we drew it up, but … a hockey player made a play with Ramsey’s shot there. If they would have killed that off, it would have been a momentum shift for them.”
Terry stretched the lead to 3-1 early in the third period on a long wrist shot past a defender who appeared to screen the goaltender. Five minutes later, Terry struck again, racing in and lifting a sweet shot past Sperry.
The crowd threw several hats onto the ice for Terry, who now has 21 goals this season and an unforgettable one last year against North Dakota. She has stockpiled memories playing for a team that is 112-6-3 over the past three seasons, and 78-1-1 over the past two.
Terry said the trip to the White House along with 18 other teams from around the country that had won NCAA titles “was a fantastic opportunity.”
“But I’d actually say that we really wanted to maybe move on from that,” Terry said. “And the coaches did a great job making us refocus in practice this week because that was [celebrating] last season.
“And this season, we have a whole new team and the same goals. But it’s definitely important for us to focus on what we have coming up.”