The Gopher women don't care that it's June. Going 41-0 and winning a national title means your season isn't done until there are no more awards to hand out. The female pucksters kept their big season rolling tonight as they swept through the Big Ten Awards, netting Women's Team of the Year, Women's Coach of the Year, and Female Athlete of the year.
The winner of the last award? I'm sure you are shocked, but it was junior forward Amanda Kessel taking home the hardware yet again.
Some notes on another well deserved acolade for Amanda from Gopher Sports:
Kessel put together a junior campaign for the record books as tallied 101 points (46g-55a) to become only the fourth player in NCAA history to reach the century mark in a season. The junior forward battled nagging injuries all season but played in 37 games averaging 2.66 points per game and finished with 28 multi-point games. Midway through the year, Kessel became the 24th player in NCAA history to surpass 200 career points and only the ninth to do so in three seasons.
The Madison, Wis. native is only the second female athlete from Minnesota to receive this award joining former Gopher swimmer Gretchen Hegener earning the accolade in 1997. Kessel is one-of-six Gophers, men or women, to garner this prestigious award.
Additional awards that Kessel has garnered this season include: USA Hockey’s Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year, Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, First Team All-America, USCHO Co-Player of the Year, First Team All-USCHO, WCHA Player of the Year, WCHA Scoring Champion, NCAA All-Tournament Team and WCHA All-Academic Team.
But this past season wasn't just about Amanda. It takes an entire team to accomplish what the Gophers did, overcoming expectations of "national title or bust" while always getting their opponent's best game. Even as the season went on and the undefeated streak grew, the Gophers always found a way to win. Without a doubt, they are the women's hockey in NCAA history. Gopher Sports notes and quotes:
After winning the 2012 National Championship, the Gophers entered the 2012-13 season with high expectations and an ‘X’ on their back, but no one predicted the team to do what they did. Minnesota returned a trio of All-Americans in Megan Bozek, Amanda Kessel and Noora Raty, but Frost was unsure how the seven new additions would fill the shoes of the nine players lost from the 2011-12 championship squad. Little did he know that the dynamic of the team would mesh immediately and ultimately generate the first undefeated season in NCAA women’s ice hockey history.
The Gophers were nearly unstoppable as they were lethal in all facets of the game. Their offense was the best in the country generating 216 goals (5.27 per game), which ranks third in NCAA history, and hoisting the best power-play conversion percentage in NCAA history (32.2% – 59/183). On the other end of the ice, their defense was stifling allowing just 36 goals (0.88 per game), which is tied for the NCAA record. One of the most astonishing statistics is that Minnesota trailed their opponents in only five games. Of those five games, the total amount of time they trailed was 50 minutes, 42 seconds.
And last but certainly not least among the award winners is head coach Brad Frost. Coach Frost did a tremendous job this past season. Keeping a team focused and loose while under mounting pressure to not only repeat as national champions but to remain undefeated is a immense task, but he accomplished it with humility. What did he have to say about it all?
"I still remember on day one talking to our players about the importance of the process and not the outcome, and I made a comment such as `We're going to lose a hockey game, so it's not always about the wins and losses. Let's focus on the process and those things'," said Frost, who just completed his sixth season at the helm. "41 games later we are undefeated, and it's just mind boggling. I can't even believe it. This is an incredibly special team and one that will go down in the history books as one of the best ever, if not the best ever."
I had a blast covering this team at the Frozen Four and I can't wait to catch more games this season at RIdder. If you haven't gone yet, put it on your list for the coming year.
Congratulations to Amanda Kessel, Coach Frost, and all of the members of the Gopher Women's Hockey team!