(photo: Mandy Hansen)
On March 22nd, the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Harvard Crimson played for the NCAA Women’s Hockey National Championship title at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both teams finished with great seasons; Minnesota with a record of 34-3-4, and Harvard with a record of 27-6-3. The game was closer than the final score indicates, as the Gophers only had a 1-0 lead midway through the third period. The final score of the game was 4-1, with Minnesota winning the National Championship title.
The fierce competitiveness of the first period demonstrated that both teams were ready to challenge for the National Championship, as the game remained scoreless until Megan Wolfe netted the first goal of the game with 50 seconds left in the first period for the Gophers, with assists coming from Dani Cameranesi and Rachael Bona. The goal was only Wolfe’s third of the season, and definitely her most important one. The intensity of the period was evident with five penalties called in the first frame, with Harvard receiving two, and Minnesota receiving three.
The second period was extremely competitive, as well. Harvard came out strong, dominating the first few minutes of the period. Unfortunately for the Crimson, their strong play was not enough to get the puck past Amanda Leveille. Midway through the period, the Gophers regrouped, however they were also unable to add to their lead.
With the National Championship on the line, both teams played the third period with high intensity, represented by the fact that a total of four goals were scored. Minnesota’s Hannah Brandt struck first on a great set up by Maryanne Menefee nine minutes after the faceoff. Harvard struck back with a little under five minutes left in the period; Sarah Edney getting a critical goal, cutting the Gophers lead in half. The Gophers answered quickly as Meghan Lorence tallied a minute-and-a-half later from Kelly Pannek. Needing a goal quickly, Harvard pulled their goaltender, Emer Maschmeyer, with just under two minutes remaining in the period. The Gophers quickly took advantage of the empty net with senior Rachael Bona scoring her final goal in a Gopher’s jersey, with assists from Lee Stecklein and Amanda Leveille.
The game finished with the Golden Gophers winning 4-1, giving them their sixth national title and their third title in the past four seasons. It was an incredible game for both teams, as they both came out strong, and played with a lot of heart.