Calm, collected: Gophers head coach Brad Frost in pursuit of fifth national championship

Frost has guided Minnesota to four national championships in the past seven seasons.

Gophers head women's hockey coach Brad Frost talks to members of the media after winning the NCAA championship in 2012.

Daily File Photo, Mark Vancleave

Gophers head women’s hockey coach Brad Frost talks to members of the media after winning the NCAA championship in 2012.

Erik Nelson

The heart of the coaching profession is based on the love of the game. For Gophers head coach Brad Frost, his motivation to coach Minnesota is based on more than a passion for hockey.

Frost played for Bethel University in St. Paul between 1993 and 1996. He graduated from Bethel in 1996 with a B.A. in physical and health education and a minor in coaching.

Frost said he knew he wanted to teach and coach as far back as high school.

“I loved athletics and loved being around athletes, and being able to communicate back and forth,” Frost said. “Bethel was a great experience for me as a player. With it being faith-based, that’s important to me. Because my experience at Bethel and playing for the hockey team was good, I want to make sure that I give our athletes the same type of experience.”

Frost joined the Gophers coaching staff in 2001 as an assistant to former Minnesota head coach Laura Halldorson. Frost is in his 12th season as Minnesota’s head coach and won his first national championship in 2012. 

Halldorson said she met Frost at a hockey camp in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, about a year prior to hiring him as one of her assistant coaches.

“His personality was a good complement to our staff,” Halldorson said. “He’s got an easygoing and fun personality. When I coached, I tended to be more intense, so it was a good blend of personalities. From a philosophical standpoint, we’re very similar. I thought that was a healthy thing for the team and a good fit.”

Frost has won four NCAA championships, four WCHA tournament titles and six WCHA regular-season titles. His career record is 372-68-31 as of Feb. 23. 

Center and team captain Kelly Pannek said Frost constantly tries to improve as a coach.

“As a coach, he clearly gets it,” Pannek said. “He doesn’t stay stagnant in one area or another. He also surrounds himself with great coaches. He’s aware of the team aspect of coaching. That’s how he’s able to pull different things out of us. He knows that other coaches will do the same. It’s not just about him but how he’s able to bring others into the equation as well.”

Frost won his 350th career game on Oct. 27 when the Gophers defeated Wisconsin 1-0. He is one of only 10 coaches in NCAA history to win 350 games.

Defender Olivia Knowles said the Gophers respond well when Frost talks to them during intermissions.

“When he gets excited or he has built up emotion and he talks to us in the dressing room, we get motivated from that,” Knowles said.

Some hockey coaches use an intense, in-your-face yelling route to coaching. Frost said he is the opposite of that.

“I’m fairly composed and fairly calm,” Frost said. “Teams resemble coaches. If I’m loud and aggressive on the bench, our players will end up playing that way. I want them to realize that practices are for us as coaches, but once we get onto the ice for a game, I want them to play fast. I want them to play free and to have fun knowing that mistakes are going to happen but we’re going to learn from them and they’re not going to be chewed out in the process.”

Minnesota will face Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA Final Faceoff semifinal at Ridder Arena on Saturday afternoon with a berth in the WCHA Final Faceoff final on the line. 

Left-winger Nicole Schammel said Frost makes good decisions during games to give Minnesota a chance to win.

“He’s been coaching for quite a while now,” Schammel said. “Experience is a big indicator of decision making. He’s been in a lot of situations. He knows when to call timeouts and what to say to players to get them going.”