Gophers women's hockey team is more than perfect in 2013

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 25, 2013 - 8:52 AM

The record-shattering winning streak was over, but the applause wouldn’t end. Gophers hockey captain Bethany Brausen couldn’t get over the noise pouring down from the crowd of 3,105 at Ridder Arena.

On Nov. 17, her team’s comeback had fallen short in a 3-2 loss to North Dakota. A 62-game winning streak that included two NCAA titles and a perfect season was history.

But all the expected sadness and dejection soon dissipated. The pressure was gone — for the players, coaches, fans — and it turned into a celebration. The cheers kept coming, reaching a crescendo as the Gophers did a ceremonial stick salute at mid-ice.

“When I saw how happy people were at the end … I think that’s when I knew how big it was,” Brausen said.

It was big enough to capture the whole state’s attention, especially during March, when the Gophers survived two overtime scares in the NCAA tournament to complete a magical 41-0 season.

When the Star Tribune went to pick its 2013 Sportsperson of the Year, the staff knew this was a team worth honoring. But it was tough picking an individual from a group bursting with talent.

Never before had one team produced all three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which goes to the top player in women’s college hockey. The Gophers not only had the award’s winner in 100-point scorer Amanda Kessel, but they also boasted the nation’s top goaltender, Noora Raty, and best defenseman, Megan Bozek.

Then there’s coach Brad Frost, who won his second NCAA title in 2013 and has this year’s team off to a 19-1 start. This season’s Gophers barely have skipped a beat even with five players from last year’s team training for the Olympics — Kessel, Bozek and defenseman Lee Stecklein for Team USA, and Raty and defenseman Mira Jalosuo for Finland.
.

“I think you need to give a shout-out to Brad Frost and his assistant coaches,” University President Eric Kaler said. “It’s just remarkable to have a winning streak that long. I joke there’s nothing that I can do 62 times without screwing it up, especially in hockey.”

For the Star Tribune, this Sportsperson of the Year dilemma was reminiscent of 2006, when the Twins had an MVP (Justin Morneau), Cy Young winner (Johan Santana) and batting champion (Joe Mauer). That award went to the entire Twins organization.

It remained the only time since the award debuted in 1998 that more than one individual was honored — until this year, with Frost’s Gophers.

One bad break and poof goes the streak

Frost used to call his team “the best-kept secret in town.” Last season, coming off their first NCAA title since 2005, the Gophers drew an average of 801 fans for their first seven home games.

This season, in their first seven home games, that average has more than tripled, to 2,471. Of course, some pretty special things happened in between those windows of time.

Frost still goes back to the first speech he gave his players last season, when he insisted that at some point they would lose a game. He wanted them focused on the process, not the results.

They won their last eight games en route to the 2012 NCAA title, and by last Christmas the winning streak stood at 28. But even then, a perfect season seemed far-fetched.

“I don’t think the players even believed we could do it,” Raty said. “Maybe until the playoffs started, when we realized we had to go undefeated to win another championship.”

By February, the Gophers surpassed the longest unbeaten streaks in NCAA women’s (32 games for Wisconsin) and men’s hockey history (38 games for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). And they weren’t just winning. Heading into the NCAA tournament, they had outscored their opponents 204-29.

  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Sportsperson of the Year

    Tuesday December 24, 2013

    The Gophers women's hockey team is the Star Tribune 2013 Sportsperson of the Year.

  • Past Sportsperson of the Year winners

    Tuesday December 24, 2013

    2012: Adrian Peterson Rushed for 2,097 yards, second most in NFL history, and was named the league’s MVP, leading the...

  • 2012-13 Gophers women's hockey roster

    Tuesday December 24, 2013

    No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown (high school/last team)2 Lee Stecklein D 5-11 Fr. Roseville (Roseville)3 Samantha Downey F 5-9 Sr. Silver Bay (Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall)4 Becky Kortum F 5-7 Sr. Minnetonka (Hopkins)5 Rachel Ramsey D 6-0 So. Chanhassen (Minnetonka)6 Katie Frischmann F/D 5-5 Sr. Rochester (Minnesota Thoroughbreds)7 Mira Jalosuo D 6-0 Sr. Lieksa, Finland (Finnish national...

  • Chart: The Gophers women's hockey team's 41-0 2012-13 season

    Tuesday December 24, 2013

    Sept. 9: Gophers 11, Colgate 0, Ridder ArenaOct. 5: Gophers 7, St. Cloud State 0*, Ridder ArenaOct. 6: Gophers...

  • The Gophers turned their celebration into a pile of smiles after they beat Boston for the NCAA championship last March in Ridder Arena. That made it a 41-0 season, a run of perfection that continued to grow.

  • Amanda Kessel (8) exited the 2012-13 season with a trophy held high and more. She scored more than 100 points and won the Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in women’s college hockey.

  • Coach Brad Frost used to call his team “the best-kept secret in town,” but attendance is way up.

  • From left, Amanda Kessel, Megan Bozek and Noora Raty were the three Kazmaier Award finalists.

  • When the team gathers on the Ridder Arena ice, signs of success hang above. “We have a blueprint for success,” coach Brad Frost said.

  • The Gophers’ Kelly Terry jammed the winning goal past North Dakota’s Shelby Amsley-Benzie late in the third overtime of the NCAA quarterfinal, and perfection was preserved once again.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta - LP: J. Walden 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: H. Rondon 5
Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: A. Burnett 6
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7
NY Yankees - LP: A. Warren 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: T. McFarland 3
Pittsburgh - LP: T. Watson 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: C. Partch 6
Miami - LP: H. Alvarez 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 7
Toronto - WP: A. Loup 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: G. Balfour 5
LA Angels - WP: G. Richards 3 FINAL
Texas - LP: N. Tepesch 0
St. Louis - WP: P. Neshek 7 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: F. Rodriguez 6
Boston - WP: J. Lackey 8 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Feldman 3
Detroit - WP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: D. Duffy 1
Minnesota - LP: K. Johnson 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 6
San Diego - WP: J. Hahn 6 FINAL
Los Angeles - LP: D. Haren 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 2 FINAL
Seattle - WP: F. Hernandez 3
Arizona - LP: M. Bolsinger 0 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: T. Lincecum 5
D.C. 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Winnipeg 34 FINAL
Montreal 33
Ottawa 11 FINAL
Edmonton 27
Calgary 5:30 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 8:30 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 7/17/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 7/18/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Hamilton 7/18/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Montreal 7/19/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Los Angeles 68 FINAL
New York 54
Seattle 88 FINAL
San Antonio 67
Phoenix 72 FINAL
Chicago 66
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which upcoming event are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close