The Minnesota Golden Gophers stayed golden Sunday afternoon, taking their fourth national title in fifth years, winning 3-1 against the Boston College Eagles.
The loss was the first for Boston College all season, as it was seeking to complete an undefeated season and become the second non-WCHA title team to come away with a trophy.
“You just never get used to it, every time is a little different and super exciting; when this eventually ends you’ll look back on it and say this was one heck of a run,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “To get to five national championship games in a row is nuts and then to win four of them? That’s where the surreal comes in.”
Minnesota jumped on the board early once again, as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Sarah Potomak. scored 13 seconds into the game, setting a new record for the championship’s fastest goal.
The Gophers added two goals in the third period, with the first and eventual game-winner coming from Amanda Kessel. The senior cut through the middle of the slot and had a clean shot in through Burt as she pulled in to try and take away her angle.
For Kessel, coming back from a severe concussion to win a title her senior year was more than she could imagine.
“I can’t believe it, I never would have imagined this happening,” Kessel said. “I’m just so grateful. I’m waiting to wake up, it’s just unbelievable.”
Kessel’s goal proved to push the momentum back to the Gophers after a continuing press from the Eagles after a strong back-and-forth defensive effort by both teams through the second half of the game. For Brad Frost, having a successful defensive effort to stifle Boston College’s offense was key, even if uncharacteristic of his offensive powerhouse.
“Our plan was just to defend well, not with one player or two players but with a whole team. I think in the third we really did a good job of just not allowing a whole lot of quality opportunities,” Frost said. “It was like a track meet out there at times, it was just end to end. You can only hope to contain a Carpenter, a Skarupa, a Keller; those guys and they played really, really well.”
It wasn’t until after a Boston College timeout at 13:12 that the Eagles able to find the back of the net after a cry to find a rally in their bones was had on the bench.
“I just tried to tell them that there’s still time left to put some in; I thought there were times where we carried our play in the offensive zone and their goalie came out big for them and made some saves,” Eagles coach Katie Crowley said. “We hit a few posts, so I thought that we could really turn it around if we put one in and could have maybe buried a second.”
Makenna Newkirk’s 22nd goal of the year gave the team a reward for their offensive push against Amanda Leveille after hitting posts and having rushes into the zone whistled offsides.
For Boston College, the loss means not only a runner-up title, but a blemish on a season that was nearly perfect, ending the year at 40-1-0. The only team to hold the perfect season record in the NCAA is the 2012-13 Golden Gophers.
“I think it’s incredible for BC to go 40 wins in a row, that’s really hard; the NCAA has some talented teams so congratulations to them,” Leveille said. “I didn’t play very much my freshman year (in 2013), but it was still an absolute blast to be on the team. I can’t say it enough, I’m so grateful to be a part of this program and team.”
For Frost, trying to end the Eagles’ run was a footnote on the story they were trying to write on their season, and not an objective coming into Sunday.
“We didn’t talk once about ending their perfect season; it was all about playing in a national championship and playing our best to go out there and try and win it,” Frost said. “BC had an incredible year. Any time you can get to the Frozen Four is a great job, let alone go 40 wins in a row.”
While the Eagles still cope with the loss of Carpenter, Skarupa and Trivigno, who accounted for 660 points across their career, tri-captain Andie Anastos still has a glimmer of hope for the future of her team.
“I mean just coming out of today, our freshmen this year, this is the first loss they’ve had at Boston College,” Anastos said. “The six seniors have been able to pave the year and they’ve created this program to be so competitive and one of the top programs out there now.”