Gophers' Amanda Kessel wins college women's hockey's top honor

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 24, 2013 - 4:50 PM

All three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award were Gophers. But the team now is focused on the national championship trophy.

hide

Gophers Womens hockey player Amanda Kessel was awarded the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the outstanding womens college hockey player of the past season

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

It’s championship Sunday for the Gophers women’s hockey team, and this squad seemingly has it all.

The Gophers are 40-0 with a 48-game winning streak dating to last season. They are the defending NCAA champions and have a chance to repeat on their home ice when they face Boston University at 3 p.m.

The Gophers had all three finalists for this year’s Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the nation’s top player. Amanda Kessel collected that trophy Saturday after edging out teammates Megan Bozek and Noora Raty.

But with all that success comes pressure to finish what they’ve started, and coach Brad Frost acknowledged that his club has been feeling it in the NCAA tournament.

The Gophers needed three overtimes to get past North Dakota in the quarterfinals and another overtime to defeat Boston College in Friday’s semifinal. Both games ended with 3-2 scores — too close for comfort, considering the Gophers are averaging 5.3 goals per game this season and giving up 0.8.

“I’m hoping they’ll play a little more free [Sunday] than they have the last couple weekends, or at least start a little quicker,” Frost said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the streak. It has to do with the fact that they don’t want their season to end.”

With the Frozen Four at Ridder Arena, the Gophers certainly didn’t want to fall short of the championship game. Now they have a chance to become the first Division I team — men’s or women’s — to finish an undefeated NCAA championship season since the Cornell men went 29-0 in 1970.

Boston University (28-5-3) is riding a 10-game winning streak of its own. The Terriers beat Clarkson 5-3 in the quarterfinals and breezed past Mercyhurst in the semis 4-1.

“I think there’s more pressure on the team that’s 40-0,” Terriers coach Brian Durocher said. “They’ve set the bar so high, and they’ve put themselves in position where there’s a lot of pressure.

“You don’t have to go back much further than their last couple of games. ... They’ve been under the gun, and they’ve answered the bell.”

Kessel leads the nation with 44 goals and 53 assists, but she’s fighting through unspecified injuries and isn’t as dangerous as she was earlier in the season, at least not consistently. She had a goal and an assist in the quarterfinal victory over North Dakota, but went without a point in the semifinals — something that has happened to her only twice in her past 44 games.

“I think anybody who knows her and watches the game knows that she’s not 100 percent,” Frost said. “The fact that she’s still a threat every time she’s on the ice is what’s important to us.”

Kessel is the second Gopher to win the Kazmaier Award, joining 2005 recipient Krissy Wendell. Former Gophers coach Laura Halldorson was asked to compare the two players Saturday and quickly mentioned their ability to thrive under pressure.

Along with fellow Olympian Natalie Darwitz, Wendell helped Halldorson win NCAA titles in 2004 and ’05.

“I see that in Amanda as well,” Halldorson said. “Like that Wisconsin series this year — it was like she willed the team to win.”

Even without Kessel at her best, freshman linemate Hannah Brandt continues to produce. Brandt has scored a goal in four of the past five games and has 32 for the season. Still, there were games earlier this season, when that line dominated, and it hasn’t happened in the postseason.

“I think it just shows how tough the playoffs are and how everyone is going to give us their best game,” Brandt said. “It’s not going to be easy for us to have an explosive game like that. I think it’s been great that others have stepped up.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta - WP: E. Stults 4 FINAL
Detroit - LP: J. Chamberlain 2
Washington - LP: X. Cedeno 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Wacha 6
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 18
Baltimore 6 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Miami - LP: D. Haren 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: R. Montero 7
San Diego 6 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
San Francisco 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 8
Colorado 2 FINAL
Oakland 11
LA Angels - LP: N. Tropeano 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 5
Cleveland 4 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
Kansas City 11 FINAL
Texas 7
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Arizona 2
Toronto 7 FINAL
Houston 4
Minnesota - LP: C. Johnson 2 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Masterson 14
Boston 116 FINAL
Charlotte 104
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
Philadelphia 111
Houston 96 FINAL
Toronto 99
Milwaukee 88 FINAL
Atlanta 101
Sacramento 83 FINAL
Memphis 97
Utah 104 FINAL
Minnesota 84
Phoenix 86 FINAL
Portland 109
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Montreal 3
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Calgary 5 FINAL
Dallas 3
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Chicago 4
Edmonton 4 FINAL
Colorado 1
Buffalo 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
ULM 58 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Dayton 70 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 91
(6) Tennessee 48 FINAL
(4) Maryland 58

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who are you rooting for in the NCAA Final Four?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close