Gophers prep for senior weekend

The seniors have the highest winning percentage of any class at Minnesota.

by Grant Donald

When senior captain Rachel Ramsey sat down to write her speech for the annual senior banquet on Thursday night, she realized she had to account for time spent crying.

“About 30 seconds for crying time,” Ramsey said. “I’m hoping not to cry for 30 seconds straight; it’s my sniffle time.”

Fellow captain and senior Rachael Bona still had to finish her speech when interviewed, but said she’ll still allocate some time for the seemingly inevitable waterworks.

“Two minutes, probably,” Bona said, laughing.

But while Minnesota’s four seniors — Ramsey, Bona, Meghan Lorence and Shyler Sletta — may be full of tears Thursday night, they’ve had little to sulk about during their four years as Gophers. 

This senior class has reached unprecedented heights, winning 92 percent of its games, which is on pace to break the Gophers program record for any class.

“As a coach, you never think, ‘Boy, I sure hope we will win over 90 percent of our games,’” head coach Brad Frost said. “It is more than what they have done on the ice — it’s the culture piece that they have helped create and sustain.”

The culture Frost alluded to was something the seniors joked about when they all committed to become Gophers back in high school.

Back then, they had no clue that their wildest dreams could actually come to fruition.

“I used to joke with Meghan Lorence back in high school going, ‘We are going to win four national championships,’ and this was when [the Gophers] hadn’t won since 2004 or ’05,” Ramsey said. “To come in and win our first year and then our second, it was surprising but something very cool to be a part of.”

To go along with their two national championships, the seniors have won the WCHA conference tournament all three years and played a crucial role in the historic 62-game winning streak.

But now they’ll lace up their skates for one of the last times at Ridder Arena, something that’s starting to hit home with the players.

“Thinking back, it is crazy how fast it goes by,” Ramsey said. “By the time you get to this point, you realize that every day is a blessing and you should be happy every day you get to put the ‘M’ on.”

At the same time, the seniors said they realize they can’t get too overwhelmed by emotions this weekend as they face a tough task in No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth, a team they lost to in a shootout earlier this season.

“I know Duluth is going to come out hard, so I just hope we can respond and win on senior night,” Bona said. “We are going to have to try and let [the emotions] go as we go into the game.”

Once the season is over, the four seniors will have plenty of time to reflect on their time as Gophers. As of now, all they are focusing on winning their third national championship in four years.

However, Frost has already thought about the mark that these four Gophers will leave behind.

“Obviously the banners they have hung here will leave a legacy in our rink,” Frost said. “But more importantly, who they are as people will leave a lasting legacy amongst our program.”