Rand: Gophers women's hockey responds to challenge

  • Updated: February 19, 2013 - 8:10 PM

2DAY'S 2 CENTS Gophers women's hockey

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Gophers women's hockey coach Brad Frost ran practice at Ridder Arena last month.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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The seemingly impossible nearly happened this past weekend. The Gophers women's hockey team, with its NCAA-record winning streak, went to overtime ... at home ... against Bemidji State, the last-place team in the WCHA. But coach Brad Frost's squad survived to emerge with a 3-2 victory -- extending its streak to 40 victories in a row in the process. Frost took some time to chat this week about the streak, the team's exposure and the upcoming postseason with the Star Tribune's Michael Rand:

Q: Was that a teachable moment Saturday against Bemidji -- did your team take the foot off the gas a little?

A: Bemidji played extremely well. They had a great game plan. They blocked over 40 shots and their goaltender stopped over 40 shots. We didn't score early, and whenever you're playing a quality opponent that you're maybe supposed to beat and they stay in the game as long as they did, their confidence increases and maybe on the flip side we start pressing. But I'm proud. Any time we've been challenged or faced adversity, they've responded well.

Q: In the media, we tend to fixate on the streak. As it progresses, do you just keep hearing about it more and more?

A: We hear about it from the media, but we never talk about it as a team. It's all something that's happened in the past. We want to continue to stay in the present and look toward the future.

Q: When you win 40 in a row, do opponents treat you any differently?

A: I think for opponents, it's hard enough when we have the "M" on our chest and a target on our back as defending national champions. Now we have the streak, and everyone wants to be the one to end that streak. In the second half of the season, we've been getting our opponents' best games. We have to be our best each night.

Q: Do you sense more of a buzz around this team from the outside as your exploits continue to grow -- not from hardcore fans but casual fans?

A: Yeah, definitely. We were averaging 1,200 to 1,500 fans in the first half. Then we started getting quite a bit more media attention. If you look at our last eight home games, it's been more like 2,700 a game. It's been great for our program. It's really nice to see.

Q: How unique is it to potentially play the entire month of March at Ridder Arena -- WCHA playoffs and NCAA playoffs -- if everything goes your way and you keep winning?

A: It's a huge advantage for us. We play very well at home. When you're in the friendly confines of your own rink and your own locker room, most importantly the last (line) change, those are all really big things as you come down the stretch.

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