Women's hockey championship preview: Boston College vs. Minnesota
DURHAM, N.H. – It’s been three years since Minnesota took home the 2013 national championship, securing the first unbeaten NCAA title in Division I women’s hockey. Gophers coach Brad Frost remembers saying then that he’d tip his hat to any other team that could pull off the same accomplishment.
He couldn’t have known then that he’d be standing in the way of the next team attempting to do just that.
Boston College (40-0-0) tries to cap off only the second perfect season in NCAA history on Sunday against the Gophers (34-4-1) in the national title game at Whittemore Center. Puck drop is slated for 2 p.m.
“In the game of hockey, there’s so many different variables,” Frost said. “The puck bounces funny, goaltender stands on her head, whatever it is. It’s very difficult.”
BC has already cemented itself in the record books prior to Sunday. These Eagles have the most single-season points (588) and assists (376) in NCAA history. The 2012-13 Gophers had 566 (third) and 350 (third), respectively. Boston College has the fourth-most goals in a season with 212. That Minnesota squad ranks third with 216.
Speaking at Saturday’s press conference, the Gophers seem perfectly content with not have the undefeated cloud hovering over their latest title game appearance.”
“Definitely not envious of that,” Minnesota senior Hannah Brandt said. “That was a very special team we had and it was cool what we were able to accomplish, but there was a lot of pressure on our team that year and kind of felt like it was building up to that last game. We’re just looking to go out and have fun tomorrow.”
From the sounds of it, Boston College isn’t even entertaining the thought of the perfect season. Instead it’s a business-like approach of the “one game at a time” mantra, saving any thoughts of undefeated for a potential postgame celebration.
“To be honest, we’re not really concerned with what our record is at this point because it doesn’t matter anymore,” BC senior Alex Carpenter said. “We’re taking it one game at a time and the next one is for an NCAA championship.”
It seemed Carpenter and Co. were a tad annoyed with Saturday’s pestering from the media about the quest for perfection. Minnesota senior Amanda Kessel remembers that all too well.
“We got a lot more coverage that year,” Kessel said. “You try not to worry about it, but I think it adds more pressure.”
As much as the Eagles want to downplay it, there’s only so much that can be ignored. Sunday will be Boston College’s first appearance in the national championship game. A win would not only be BC’s first, but also a first for the Hockey East Association.
Add a perfect record to all that and the last team to execute an undefeated season stands in the way; it’s hard to ignore that storyline entirely. Not just for media, but for all those taking the ice on Sunday.
“We haven’t really thought about it too much, but yeah, it seems like it’s a pretty good story when it works out that way,” Boston College coach Katie Crowley said. “It’s going to be two great hockey teams battling against each other tomorrow, and it’ll be a fun experience for us and a fun game.”
Need another intriguing tidbit to the matchup? Minnesota ousted Boston College in the 2013 Frozen Four semifinal, 3-2, in overtime.
But Carpenter isn’t fixated on that game. The Eagles aren’t reflecting on any previous games, for that matter. Even Friday’s semifinal heroics against Clarkson appear to be a miniscule dot reflecting on the rearview mirror.
All that remains is one game, history be damned.
“We’re not really concerned about any other games in the past,” Carpenter said, “except for the one that we have tomorrow.”