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Continued: To cheers, U women's hockey closing in on perfection

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 22, 2013 - 12:06 PM

Malerich has been a fixture at the team’s home games ever since.

“At least initially, it was strictly financial,” Malerich said. “I still love going to the men’s games, but why spend $25 to $30 to see a college hockey game, when you can see one that’s just about as good for $8.”

Malerich got the nickname “Crazy Dave” from the father of former Gopher Dagney Willey and later had it embroidered on a sweatshirt.

These days, Malerich wears a blue Finland scarf to games, honoring the team’s two Finnish players — Raty and Mira Jalosuo. The scarf was a gift from Raty’s father, who has been in town from Finland this month.

“The smallest thing we could do is give something back, even if it’s just a scarf, or say hi or chat a little bit,” Noora Raty said. “Those fans do so much for us. It almost feels like they could be part of the team.”

Freshman Hannah Brandt remembers feeling that same connection when she started attending Gophers games in elementary school. Now she’s the team’s second leading scorer behind Kessel, with 31 goals and 49 assists.

“[The players] were always signing autographs after the games and high-fiving us when they came out, so I make sure to do the same,” Brandt said. “I know how much it means to the little kids.”

Munson, 46, has two daughters, ages 5 and 10, who started playing hockey last year. He took them to a game, and the family was instantly hooked. He frequently tweets the team’s praises (@Munsongs) and mentions their success whenever he guest hosts on FM-89.3 The Current.

“To me, it’s a story of historic importance,” Munson said. “This may be the best women’s team there’s ever been.”

With two more wins, the Gophers can make it official.





 

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