Gophers are champs again by combining toughness, skill

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 19, 2012 - 6:37 AM

The Gophers, getting outstanding play from their goalie, claimed their first NCAA crown since 2005 by beating the defending national champion.

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DULUTH - As he began making plans for this season, coach Brad Frost knew the Gophers possessed enough talent to win their third NCAA women's hockey championship. He also knew that talent alone wouldn't get it done.

Frost set out four values he wanted his team to embody: toughness, gratitude, discipline and devotion. Sunday, in the final seconds of a 4-2 victory over Wisconsin, he felt the tears well in his eyes at a job well done. The second-ranked Gophers demonstrated all the qualities Frost asked of them throughout the season, culminating in an epic title game that gave them their first NCAA title since 2005.

Emily West scored the winning goal on a penalty shot with 1 minute, 32 seconds remaining in the first period at Amsoil Arena. Goaltender Noora Raty took over from there, stopping 42 shots in a magnificent performance that earned her the award as the most outstanding player of the Frozen Four.

The top-ranked Badgers, defending champs and winners of four of the past six titles, outshot the Gophers 44-25. But after they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score, Raty shut them out over the final 44:17. As Frost embraced his colleagues on the bench, his players tossed their sticks and helmets into the air, celebrating a season that put them in the company of the Gophers' title teams of 2004 and 2005.

"We're so happy to bring the trophy back,'' said Frost, who won his first NCAA championship in his fifth season as head coach. "It feels like it's been a long time.

"When it was 3-2, I wasn't sure it was going to hold up. Then we got back to our strengths. We've been the best defensive team in the country all year, and I think that showed. Overall, it was a great hockey game.''

The Gophers and Badgers put on a terrific show in a fitting end to the season. They showed why the WCHA has won all 12 NCAA women's hockey titles, with a fast, ferocious and closely contested game that had 2,439 fans roaring throughout.

Gophers forward Amanda Kessel, a Madison native itching to play her hometown team for the championship, opened the scoring at 8:45 of the first period. Sarah Erickson's goal made it 2-0 before the Badgers beat Raty twice in the span of 1:40 late in the period.

The Gophers were called for five penalties to the Badgers' two, including back-to-back infractions that gave Wisconsin a two-man advantage for 1:02 near the end of the first period. While the Badgers couldn't score, West got the game-winner with teammate Kelly Terry still in the penalty box. Wisconsin also failed to score on two power-play opportunities in the final two periods.

The Badgers finished their season with a 33-5-2 record and an empty feeling in their stomachs. The Gophers finished 34-5-2, won a WCHA playoff crown to go with their NCAA title and earned a 3-1-1 mark against their cross-border rivals.

"It's a tough pill to swallow,'' Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. "I thought we battled. We made a few mistakes in some situations and didn't execute in others. The overall effort was there, but we needed a break or a bounce at some point. And we didn't get it.''

Their biggest blunder came when Wisconsin's Brittany Haverstock tripped West on a breakaway, giving her a penalty shot. She sized up Badgers goalie Alex Rigsby, lured her in with a fake and scored into the open right side of the net.

West celebrated with a Lambeau-style leap into the Gophers' bench. Raty made sure they would have a larger celebration later, stopping 34 shots in the final two periods to give the Gophers the title that had eluded them for so long.

"To end as a senior on this note, it's kind of like a Cinderella story,'' Erickson said. "We've come up short every year. This was fun. This is what we play for.''

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Cincinnati - LP: J. Broxton 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 2
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 9
NY Yankees - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3
Philadelphia - LP: J. Diekman 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 4
Boston - WP: A. Ranaudo 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer 4
Miami - LP: C. Hatcher 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 5
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 6 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Texas - WP: S. Baker 13 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: N. Ramirez 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 2
Colorado 2 FINAL
Arizona 5
Oakland 0 Bottom 7th Inning
LA Angels 4
Los Angeles 2 Bottom 8th Inning
San Diego 2
Washington 7 Bottom 8th Inning
Seattle 2
Milwaukee 2 Bottom 5th Inning
San Francisco 13
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 6 3rd Qtr
Arizona 24
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Houston 3 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 1
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota 71 FINAL
Phoenix 85
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




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