Quality helps grow the game
Coaches believe great action will help women's hockey expand
DULUTH, Minn. – Following Minnesota’s 4-2 win against Wisconsin that gave the Gophers their third Division I women’s ice hockey national championship, both teams' head coaches said they felt the 2011-12 season’s title-decider was a good advertisement for the women’s game.
“We’ve got such a great product, and if we can just get people in the door to see it, they’ll go home happy,” Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said. “Tickets aren’t overly expensive, and it’s the way both teams laid it on the line tonight and gave everything they had.
“It was an exciting hockey game, taking a penalty there with a few minutes left and being down 6-on-4, and Noora made some great saves and Wisconsin made some great plays, and our kids were blocking shots,” Frost continued, mentioning how the Gophers had to hold on in the game’s final minutes. “I think it was a pretty darn exciting hockey game, and I thought all three games this weekend were great.”
|NC ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Interactive Bracket | Photos|
|Championship Recap: Minnesota tops Badgers|
|Semifinals: Wisconsin tops BC in semis|
|Semifinals: Minnesota downs Cornell in semis|
|Semisch: Decker captures Kazmaier Award|
|Semisch: Previewing the Women's Frozen Four|
|Olshansky: Frozen Four players to watch|
Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson echoed Frost’s comments and encouraged hockey fans to come out and see what has become in the 12 years that the NCAA has sanctioned women’s college hockey. Even before then, a high-quality product was played by individuals exhibiting their quality on and off the ice.
“I hope the fans got entertained,” Johnson said. “And I hope that everybody that watched saw some good women’s hockey and they’ll come back, whether it’s here in Duluth or Minneapolis or down in Madison, that more people will come out and watch the game.”
He continued: “It’s fun to be a part of, it’s fun to get a chance to work with these young ladies for four or five years, and it’s fun to compete against the other coaches and teams in the league. I just hope that, as time goes on, we get more people into the buildings and get the game on television, and especially our championship game.
“As people come into our buildings, they understand the commitment the players put in and how competitive they are, and, for the price of admission, they’re getting entertained.”
Raty backstops Gophers to No. 1
Perhaps more than any other Minnesota Gopher on the Amsoil Arena ice on Sunday, goaltender Noora Raty shined against Wisconsin and proved vital to her team’s success against its WCHA rival in the national title game.
The junior netminder from Espoo, Finland ended the afternoon with 42 saves, including 20 in a frantic third period where the Badgers tried but failed to climb out of the second of two two-goal holes.
“I’ve said time and time again that, in my opinion, she’s the best goalie in the world,” Minnesota captain and senior forward Sarah Erickson said. “I think she showed it here tonight.
“That’s what we expect from her, and we don’t always give her enough credit, but that’s what she expects from herself, but I think she’s pretty satisfied, just as we are, to get this. It’s the final, and it shows that she’s one of the top goalies in the world, especially with that many saves in a championship game.”
Raty left the Gopher program temporarily in 2010 and backstopped Finland to a third-place finish at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but she told reporters following Sunday’s triumph that winning a national championship with Minnesota means more to her.
“I think this actually feels better, because I love this team more than any national team I’ve been a part of. I told one reporter last week that I wanted to win that big prize, that national championship. That was just a bronze medal (in Vancouver), not first place, so I think this feels better.”
WCHA dominates Women's Frozen Four All-Tournament Team
Players from Minnesota and Wisconsin took all six spots on the 2012 Frozen Four All-Tournament Team. UM's Noora Raty only conceded three goals in the two games against the Badgers and Cornell and was named the Women's Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player.
Only teams from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association have won the Women’s Frozen Four since NCAA tournament play began in 2001, and the two schools representing their conference in Duluth, Minn. placed teams on the all-tournament list for 2012.
Three other Gophers made their way onto the team. Senior forward Sarah Erickson, junior defenseman Megan Bozek and sophomore forward Amanda Kessel were Minnesota’s other players that made the six-player team.
Wisconsin senior forwards Carolyne Prevost and Brooke Ammerman also made their way onto the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team.
News and notes
Minnesota and Wisconsin are no strangers to each other, having met four times in the WCHA regular season for 2011-12 alone. Sunday’s game, however, was only the third time that the teams had met in the NCAA tournament. The Badgers had won both previous outings, winning in the 2006 national championship game before denying the Gophers again in a quarterfinal game in 2008… Emily West’s penalty shot goal Sunday that proved to win both the game and the national championship for Minnesota was the first such goal for a Minnesota player in the Frozen Four since Bobbi Ross scored on a penalty shot against New Hampshire in 2006… Wisconsin senior forward Hilary Knight earned an assist on teammate Stefanie McKeough’s first period goal Sunday, boosting Knight’s career point total at UW to 262. It’s the highest number of points that any Badger has had in her career, and Knight also leads the program all-time with 143 goals.