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Denver’s McKade Webster chases another hockey title after sister Makenna helped Ohio State to crown

The Frozen Four is going to be held this weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Image by Wejdan al Balushi
The Webster duo is going to face off in Minnesota this weekend.

DENVER (AP) — In the Webster family, hockey runs deep. So does winning on the ice.

Current NCAA national titles score: Makenna 2, McKade 1.

McKade Webster can tie the score with his younger sister this weekend at the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minnesota. McKade, a senior captain for Denver, is trying to follow the lead of Makenna, who helped Ohio State capture the women’s crown just over two weeks ago.

This hockey endeavor is definitely a family operation. It was McKade who inspired Makenna to switch over from figure skating. It was Makenna who once gave McKade a black eye courtesy of a high stick in a friendly game in their basement. And it was mom and dad who traveled with them all around for games and practices.

The Websters will be well-represented at the Xcel Energy Center, too, with about 30 family members and friends showing up for McKade’s last go-around. The Pioneers (30-9-3) face Boston University (28-9-2) on Thursday in a semifinal game, with the winner advancing to the title game Saturday.

“It would just be incredible,” their dad, Dave Webster, said of the possibility of McKade winning a second title at Denver (Makenna captured her first at Wisconsin before transferring to Ohio State). “To watch your kids, the whole team, celebrate, knowing all the work they put in, it’s pure joy. It’s profound.”

Growing up St. Louis, McKade and Makenna always had the house where other kids wanted to hang out. Their yard featured an outdoor court that included pickleball along with a turf field for soccer and field hockey (Makenna’s other sport).

In the basement, a synthetic hockey rink. They wore it out, with dad constantly sharpening the skates (the synthetic surface dulled them pretty quick).

McKade caught the hockey bug from his cousin, who played club hockey in college. In turn, Makenna caught the fever from watching McKade, giving up the spins of figure skating for slap shots.

“She was pretty much done with all the makeup and glamour and she wanted to hit some of the boys,” McKade joked. “She transitioned to hockey and never looked back.”

Being elite players — Makenna is nearly two years younger and played on boys teams but not alongside McKade — their parents, Dave and Sunny, split the travel duties.

“They’ve been there for every step, being hugely supportive and pushing us forward,” McKade said. “It’s been awesome seeing them at every game.”

And they certainly do try to make every one. Take the weekend of the women’s NCAA championship for instance.

Dave and Sunny attended Makenna’s semifinal win over Clarkson University in Durham, New Hampshire, on March 22. The next day, they were in St. Paul to watch McKade and the Pioneers beat Omaha in NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship game (McKade was the named the tournament’s most outstanding player). Then it was back to New Hampshire the following day to take in Makenna and the Buckeyes beating Wisconsin — Makenna’s former team — to hoist the national trophy.

“We’ve spent a lot of time on the road with the kids,” Dave said. “It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

In ninth grade, McKade attended Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a school in Faribault, Minnesota, that’s known for its hockey development program (past attendees include Sidney Crosby ). Makenna went there, too. The family bought a house in the area.

Both flourished.

McKade suited up for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League and caught the eye of Tampa Bay. The Lightning picked him in the seventh round of the 2019 draft.

Funny story on that draft: He was actually asleep at a buddy’s house when his name was announced. He was awakened by his ringing phone.

McKade joined the Pioneers in 2020-21 and a season later, helped them to their ninth national title.

This season, he’s savoring every moment. The recent graduate said he’s ready to put down his stick and move into the world of business.

But not quite yet.

McKade and the Pioneers have a chance to become the first men’s college hockey program to win 10 national titles. Michigan, too, is in the running for that distinction. The Wolverines (23-14-3) face Boston College (33-5-1) in the other semifinal game.

Makenna will be in the stands. She will be wearing his No. 6 Denver jersey for good luck.

The hockey path for Makenna led her first to Wisconsin, where she helped the Badgers to a title in 2021 and was named the Frozen Four’s Most Outstanding Player. She transferred to Ohio State in the summer of 2022 so she could play field hockey as well. The Badgers beat Makenna and the Buckeyes 1-0 in the title game last season. This season, Makenna and Ohio State knocked off Wisconsin 1-0.

“When we won at the end, it was like everything we did, throughout the whole year, paid off,” Makenna said.

Now, it’s McKade’s chance to reach college hockey’s summit again. Asked what it would mean for McKade to match Makenna in their national-titles race, Dave just laughed.

“It would mean,” he said, “that Makenna would have to win a third next year to stay ahead.”

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