Gophers stun unbeaten BC
Gophers stun unbeaten BC
Kessel returns, Minnesota wins NCAA women’s title
Sarah Potomak, the Canadian MVP of last year’s U18 Women’s World Championship in Buffalo, scored just 13 seconds after the opening faceoff to get the Minnesota’s Golden Gophers going.
Amanda Kessel and Kelly Pannek scored in the third to make it 3-0 before Makenna Newkirk got Boston College to within two to spoil Amanda Leveille’s shutout, but that was all the scoring in the game.
Boston College entered the final with a perfect 40-0-0 record. The only other perfect season was accomplished by coach Brad Frost and his Golden Gophers in 2013, the last time Amanda Kessel played.
This time, the Gophers were 34-4-1 entering the final game, and Kessel was back in the lineup. Minnesota qualified for the final game by beating Wisconsin 3-2 in overtime of the semi-finals thanks to a goal from Potomak in the extra period.
Boston stayed perfect in similar fashion, beating Clarkson 3-2 in OT on a Haley Skarupa goal.
Although the Eagles boasted one of the top players in the country in Alex Carpenter, she was held at bay by Minnesota which, in addition to Potomak and Kessel, had international players such as Sydney Baldwin, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi and Lee Stecklein on the roster.
Boston College was the overwhelming favourite coming into the game, their flawless record well deserved. But Minnesota had Kessel, who was back in the lineup for the first time in nearly three years after making a full recovery from a concussion she suffered before the Sochi Olympics. She had two assists in her first game, on 5th February, and had 16 points in 12 games down the stretch.
In the final game of the NCAA season, and the last game before many players from collegiate hockey head to British Columbia for the 2016 Women’s Worlds, it was the new (Potomak) and old (Kessel) who led the Gophers to a victory that ensures they are still the only team to go through an NCAA season undefeated in women’s hockey.
NOTE: On Friday, Kendall Coyne, the captain of Northeastern, was awarded the Patty Kazmaier Award as the outstanding player in NCAA women’s hockey. She beat out other finalists forward Alex Carpenter (Boston College) and goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens (Wisconsin). Coyne graduates this year but still has a long career ahead of her with the senior national team, of which she has been a part since 2011.
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