Gophers go back-to-back

The women’s hockey team won its fourth national title in five seasons Sunday afternoon.

Emily Polglaze

The hats, selfies, pieces of net and trophy are already routine around the Minnesota women’s hockey program. Only the year is changing.
 
 
The Gophers skated their way to their seventh national championship in 19 years on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Boston College in Durham, N.H. The game marked the team’s fifth consecutive trip to the national title game, and Minnesota emerged victorious four times.
 
 
The victory also gave Minnesota its sixth NCAA title, the most by a women’s college hockey program.
 
 
“It never gets old,” head coach Brad Frost said. “We’re just so excited and happy and grateful to have won the 2016 National Championship. It’s somewhat surreal.”
 
 
Boston College entered the championship game undefeated and attempted to become the second team in history to complete an undefeated season. The only other team to do so was the 2012-13 Gophers, and after Sunday they remained the only team with a perfect season.
 
 
Freshman forward Sarah Potomak, who scored the game-winning overtime goal in the team’s Frozen Four victory over Wisconsin on Friday, put the Gophers on the board just 13 seconds into the game.
 
 
Despite both teams boasting high-powered offenses, the score held throughout the first two periods.
 
 
In the third period,  senior forward Amanda Kessel extended the Gophers’ lead with her second goal of the Frozen Four and fifth of the NCAA tournament.
 
 
The goal capped off a triumphant return for Kessel, who had been off the team since 2013 prior to the end of the season due to the Olympics, and later, lingering concussion symptoms.
 
 
Less than five minutes after the goal, sophomore forward Kelly Pannek put the Gophers ahead 3-0 with less than seven minutes to play.
 
 
Hockey East Rookie of the Year Makenna Newkirk scored for the Eagles less than a minute later, but Boston College couldn’t mount a comeback. 
 
 
Senior goaltender Amanda Leveille capped off her tournament with a masterful performance in net for the Gophers, making 32 saves in the victory.
 
 
“Amanda Leveille is just so underrated,” Kessel said. “She really kept us in it the entire weekend.”
 
 
Leveille was named to the All-Tournament team in the Frozen Four, along with Kessel, Potomak and senior defenseman Lee Stecklein.
 
 
Potomak was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after recording two goals and an assist in the Frozen Four.
 
 
“It’s a dream come true,” Potomak said. “I chose the University of Minnesota because I believed that I could win a national championship with this team, and it’s just an incredible honor playing with all these girls. I’m just speechless. There are really no words to describe it.”