The Gophers lost some good players to graduation from last year’s NCAA championship team, including Anne Schleper, another probable Olympian. But Minnesota returned 15 letter-winners.
The Gophers showed no signs of panic against North Dakota, even after getting outplayed in the first period and falling behind 2-1 early in the second.
“I think our leadership is tremendous, with our upperclassmen and then our captains — Megan Bozek and Bethany Brausen,” coach Brad Frost said.
Frost was an assistant under Laura Halldorson when the Gophers won their NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005. He took over as head coach for the 2008-09 season, and the Gophers didn’t win their next national title until last year.
Frost said he learned early in his head-coaching days to keep his team focused on the process, not the end result.
The coaching staff gives the team eight specific guidelines for each game. Frost declined to name all of them, but he said one deals with keeping penalties to a certain minimum and another sets a numeric goal for the team’s forecheck.
Frost said the team also established four core values for each player: Be tough, grateful, disciplined and devoted to one another.
“If we can do those things — live to our values, on and off the ice — then our kids are successful,” Frost said. “I know in the outside world, success is determined in whether you win or lose a hockey game. But that scoreboard doesn’t always tell the story.”
It sure has for this team.