It has been a heck of a weekend for the Minnesota Women's Hockey Team. Friday night they scored four unanswered goals to defeat UMD 4-1 and advance to the WCHA Final Face-off Championship game. Saturday, the Gophers took control in the second period, and defeated North Dakota to win their third consecutive WCHA Final Face-off Championship. Sunday morning the team flew to Washington DC and enjoyed the sights before learning they will host Boston University in a NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal match-up in a rematch of last season's national championship game, and today the Gophers along with several other collegiate national champion teams will be at the White House and get to meet the President of the United States. One heck of a weekend indeed.
Friday night, the #1 Gophers took on the #4 seeded UMD Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were in for a dog fight, and gave the Gophers all they could ask for. The Bulldogs outshot the Gophers 10-9 in the first period, however neither team could find the back of the net. Gopher goalie Amanda Leveille made several big saves to keep the game scoreless.
UMD seemed to control the play early in the second period, and they were rewarded when Katerina Mrazova scored her first goal of the season on a rebound to put the Bulldogs up 1-0. This seemed to wake the Gophers up, and with just over six minutes left in the second, Kelly Terry got the Gophers on the board. Terry slammed home a rebound of a Dani Cameranesi shot and tied the game at 1. The Gophers would outshoot UMD 16-7 in the second period, yet it would end knotted up at one goal each.
In the third period, the Gophers took full control of the game. Rachel Bona and Meghan Lorence worked a gorgeous give and go play, and Bona slammed the puck past UMD goaltender Kayla Black on the power play to put the Gophers up 2-1. The Gophers made it 3-1 seven minutes later when Milica McMillen ripped home a blast from the point. Cameranesi would ice the game for good on a breakway with 50 seconds left to finish off a 4-1 victory.
Saturday night the Gophers would play #3 seed North Dakota who had defeated #2 Wisconsin 1-0 the night before. North Dakota was the victor in the Gopher's lone loss this season, so a tough game would be expected. North Dakota was also playing for their NCAA Tournament life, without a win and the WCHA's automatic bid to the NCAA's they would not qualify for the tournament.
Once again it was a scoreless first period. The Gophers outshot North Dakota 12-5 in the first period, but UND goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie stood tall and did not let the puck by her. Just like Friday night, the opposing team struck first. Josefine Jakobsen put a shot past Leveille on the power play to give UND a 1-0 lead.
Once again just like Friday, the Gophers did not take long to respond. The Gophers went on a powerplay of their own with just under ten minutes remaining in the second when Rachel Ramsey waited for a hole to appear at the top of the slot and ripped a wrist shot into the net. Three and a half minutes later, with the Gophers in the middle of a 19-6 shot on goal onslaught in the second period, and with the Gophers on the powerplay once again, Ramsey ripped another shot from just inside the blue line. This time, her shot was tipped by Patty Kazmeir finalist Hannah Brandt into the back of the net to put the Gophers up 2-1. That would be how the second period would end.
The third period would see the Gophers once again outshoot North Dakota 13-10, but they could not get the all important third goal past Ansley-Benzie. Finally, with Ansley-Benzie pulled the Gophers put the final icing on the cake as Cameranesi shot the puck into the empty net for her second clincher in two nights. The final secods ticked down, and the Gophers left off their bench to pile onto Leveille, celebrating their third consecutive WCHA Final Face-off Championship! Ramsey was named the tournament MVP, and was joined on the All-Tournament Team with Terry, Cameranesi, and Leveille.
Here are some tweets from the players after the game and during the celebration:
The priceless evidence of a championship! pic.twitter.com/DS1J71niFC— MNWomensHockey (@MNWomensHockey) March 9, 2014
WCHA TOURNEY CHAMPS!!! Great team win over UND! #GWH— Rachel Ramsey (@RachelRamsey44) March 9, 2014
Even the staunchest rivals have to give the Gophers some much deserved appreciation:
As Hannah said in the tweet above, the Gophers celebrated Saturday night, and then promptly got on a plane Sunday morning to fly to Washington DC. The Gophers 2012-13 National Championship team was one of several NCAA Champion teams that were to be honored by the President of the United States on Monday at the White House. The Gophers spent a lot of their time sightseeing and having a good time in DC on Sunday, and then sat down to watch the NCAA Selection Show Sunday evening.
The Gophers, along with everyone else already knew they would be the #1 overall seed going into the tournament. The questions would be, who would they be playing in the quarterfinals this Saturday. That question was answered when Boston University upset Boston College to win the Hockey East Tournament, and received the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. BU would not have made the tournament otherwise, and it sets up a rematch of the 2013 NCAA Championship Game at Ridder Arena that the Gophers won 6-3. The Gophers and Terriers will play at 4:00 PM on Saturday at Ridder. We will have a preview of this game later in the week, however, tickets are on sale now, and the game will most likely sell-out. Get your tickets at www.gophersports.com, or in person at the Gopher ticket office.
Today, the Gophers visited the US Capital, met with Senator Amy Klobushar, and will be honored on the South Lawn of the White House with the President at 4:00 Pm Central time. You can watch the ceremony streamed live here.
Finished the Capital tour, now off to the White House! pic.twitter.com/zxSNlvZSpp— Brad Frost (@FrostBrad) March 10, 2014
The Gophers will fly home after the ceremony, and will resume practice to get ready to attempt to complete Three-peat #2. The NCAA Championships. Look for a preview of the Gophers game against Boston University later this week on The Daily Gopher.