Women’s hockey clinches WCHA regular-season title

Minnesota’s women’s hockey team clinched the WCHA regular season title Sunday after St. Cloud State shut out Minnesota-Duluth 3-0 in Duluth.

The second-ranked Bulldogs (19-5-4, 14-5-3 WCHA) were the only team capable of catching the first-ranked Gophers (24-3-5, 17-2-3) in the title race, but they needed to win out the remainder of the season just to tie. Additionally, the Huskies would have needed to sweep the Gophers this weekend.

“This is a great accomplishment for our team,” Gophers coach Laura Halldorson said Monday. “But we still want to win against St. Cloud State.

“We won the regular season title last year but it didn’t mean anything in the post-season. We can’t get complacent.”

Minnesota was the WCHA regular season champion in the 2000-01 campaign with a conference mark of 18-4-2. The team went on to lose to Ohio State and Wisconsin in the WCHA tournament and lose a possible NCAA Frozen Four bid.

Albrecht wins Ms. Hockey

Minnesota women’s hockey recruit Ashley Albrecht was given the 2002 Minnesota Ms. Hockey award Sunday. It marks the sixth time in the seven-year history of the award that the Gophers have landed Ms. Hockey.

Albrecht scored the winning goal in the Class AA girls’ final on Saturday as her South St. Paul team defeated White Bear Lake 2-1. She was also awarded Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year last week.

U.S. National Team member Krissy Wendell (2000), Renee Curtin (2001) – a medical redshirt this season – and Ronda Curtin (1999) will give the Gophers four Ms. Hockey winners in uniform next season.

Baker makes cut

The defending national champion Minnesota wrestling team solidified its post-season line-up on Monday, announcing redshirt freshman Nate Baker as the starter at 165 pounds for the Big Ten and NCAA championships over junior John Hardy.

“Right now we’re giving Baker a little bit of experience,” coach J Robinson said. “Hardy has had a little bit of a hard time with weight.”

Baker wrestled in the final four regular season dual meets for the Gophers, going 2-2 in those meets.

His biggest win came last Sunday when he pinned sixth-ranked John Clark of Ohio State.

Hardy last wrestled against Northwestern on Feb. 8th where he lost a 13-7 decision. His last win came in the Border Brawl against Iowa.

“John has done everything we’ve asked him to this year,” Robinson said. “He’s done a real good job, but the weight cutting is getting to him a bit. So I think it has more to do with that than anything else.”

Hardy still has one year of eligibility left, and Robinson said he might move Hardy to the 184-pound weight class and bump the current grappler at 184, Damion Hahn, to 197 in place of Owen Elzen, who is in his final season.

– Anthony Maggio, Staff Reporter