Monday, March 21, 2016
Eagles Fall in NCAA Women's Championship
The greatest season in the history of the Boston College women's ice hockey program came up one game short of perfection on Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles fell, 3-1, to defending national champion Minnesota in the 2016 NCAA Division I women's hockey national title game at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H. It was the sixth overall national crown for the third-ranked Golden Gophers (35-4-1 overall) since the NCAA began honoring a women's hockey national champion in 2001. The Gophers, who also claimed their fourth national title in the last five years, previously recorded the only perfect season in NCAA women's hockey history in 2012-13, when they finished 41-0-0.
BC (40-1-0), a 3-2 overtime winner over Clarkson on Thursday, was appearing in its first-ever national championship game. The Eagles, the nation's No. 1 team for virtually the entire season, had not lost since a 2-1 setback to Harvard a year ago to the day of Sunday's game.
Minnesota picked up where it left off in its semifinal match with rival Wisconsin on Thursday night. Sarah Potomak, who scored the game-winner 15 minutes into overtime against the Badgers in a 3-2 victory that evening, struck just 13 seconds after the opening face-off on Sunday. The one-goal lead held up as the Eagles and Gophers traded scoring chances, until the third period when Amanda Kessel and Kelly Pannek scored just under five minutes apart to put Minnesota up by a 3-0 count.
Makenna Newkirk connected for the Eagles with 5:07 remaining in regulation, but that was as close as BC would get. Amanda Leveille made 32 saves in her final appearance with the Gophers, while Katie Burt stopped 31 shots for the Eagles. Minnesota outshot BC, 34-33, while the two teams went a combined 0-for-7 on the power play.
The Eagles had previously won the 2015-16 Hockey East regular-season and tournament championships, plus the 2016 Beanpot Tournament title. Minnesota was the runner-up to Wisconsin for this year's WCHA regular-season and playoff championships.
Next year's NCAA Women's Division I Frozen Four will be held in the St. Louis area. Lindenwood University of College Hockey America will serve as the host of the tournament, which will be played at Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo., on March 17-19, 2017.