Seniors lead Minnesota to its third national championship in four years
MINNEAPOLIS -- Top-seeded Minensota defeated three-seed Harvard 4-1 to win the program's sixth national title in front of a sold-out crowd at Ridder Arena Sunday afternoon.
Goaltender Amanda Leveille made 19 saves for the Maroon & Gold while Minnesota (34-3-4) received goals from Megan Wolfe, Hannah Brandt and Meghan Lorence and Rachael Bona.
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"I don't know how you explain what's going on there to have [the four seniors] play in four national championships in a row," head coach Brad Frost said. "To come away with three of them speaks volumes to our team, our program and our players.
"We are so blessed and fortunate. It's somewhat surreal, but when you've got 3,500 screaming fans cheering for you, it sure gives you an extra boost which helped our team come through tonight."
Wolfe put the Gophers up 1-0 late in the first period, marking the 17th goal the Gophers scored in the final minute of a period this season. Dani Cameranesi and Bona picked up assists on the play as Wolfe received the puck from Cameranesi, moved across the Harvard zone and fired a shot from the left circle that beat Emerance Maschmeyer glove-side.
After a scoreless second period, Brandt extended the Gophers' lead with a goal at 8:50 in the third period, teaming up with linemate and fellow junior Maryanne Menefee on a two-on-one. The goal marked Brandt's 34th goal of the season.
The Crimson cut Minnesota's lead to one with 4:54 remaining as Sarah Edney kept the Harvard's chances at a national title alive late in the third period. However, Lorence extended the Gophers' lead back to two just 1:48 later.
Bona capped her storied collegiate career as she clinched the national championship for the Gophers with an empty net goal with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
"We had to play our most complete game of the year tonight to beat Harvard," Frost said. "We knew they were going to be fast, deep and have great goaltending."
With the 2015 championship, Minnesota now owns a collegiate women's hockey record six national titles. The Gophers join Minnesota Duluth (five), Wisconsin (four) and Clarkson (one) to combine for all 16 national titles since 2000. Minnesota has won three titles in the past four years (2012, 2013, 2015) after finishing as national runners-up a year ago.
Leveille, Wolfe, Brandt, Menefee and Cameranesi were named to the 2015 NCAA All-Tournament Team. Harvard's Edney was also honored, and Brandt was named the Frozen Four's Most Outstanding Player.
The game marked a rematch of the 2004 and 2005 national championship games, both of which Minnesota also won against Harvard.