It was like Bachmann-Turner Overdrive last week for the Minnesota women’s hockey team, and this week it’s the Isley Brothers.
Minnesota has been “Taking Care of Business,” scoring four unanswered goals to defeat Boston University 5-1 last Saturday in the NCAA quarterfinals. This Friday, they’ve still got “Work to Do” as the Gophers (37-1-1) face Wisconsin (28-7-2) in Hamden, Conn., the site of the 2014 Frozen Four.
“It was business as usual,” proclaimed U of M junior defenseman Rachel Ramsey after the win. She added that the biggest prize still lies ahead of them.
The MSR asked Coach Brad Frost how he and his staff are keeping the squad focused, especially at this time of year when everyone is tired. “First and foremost, you communicate with your players,” explained Frost, whose squad is vying for their third straight national title in as many tries.
“We’re checking on them, seeing if they are tired. In the second half [of the season], we ended up taking two days off, Sunday and Monday, [then] practice three days, then play our Friday and Saturday games.
“Fortunately for us we have been in this position for a number of years,” said Frost on playing this deep into March. “You get in a groove on how to manage it.”
Top-seeded Minnesota leads the nation’s teams in scoring, scoring margin, and power play — their only power play goal last Saturday came on a 5-on-3 advantage by Ramsey. They’ve been ranked at the top of the polls all season long and have a 25-game unbeaten streak.
“I think people, when they are watching our team, see it — the chemistry and the culture is vital to our success,” noted Frost on the school’s most successful program in this decade. They have made the NCAAs seven straight years, and this is their 12th overall postseason appearance.
“These players really do love each other. They play for the person next to them. They just are not satisfied with playing any other way.”
The team survived a whirlwind week, which began with a visit to the White House with 18 other college championship teams recognized by President Barack Obama. They then prepared for a matchup with Boston U. Frost told the MSR that the D.C. trip was a lot different than the last time he was there.
“I was fortunate to go out there in 2004 after we won [the national title], and President [George] Bush was out there,” he recalled. “We had a great time, but everything was inside the White House, and the president didn’t shake everybody’s hands.”
Frost therefore told his players this time around, “Don’t expect a whole lot — he probably is going to come get his picture taken with us and move on.” However, “It was the opposite — President Obama is so personable. He shook every one of our players’ and our staffs’ hands, and everybody got to talk to him for a minute or two. It was a great experience.”
Now it’s a one-and-one situation for the Gophers this weekend — win Friday, and they get to play two days later.
After last Saturday’s win, Ramsey told reporters, “We haven’t won [yet]. Hopefully [this] weekend we can throw gloves [in the air in celebration].”
See more cliché-free March Madness coverage on the MSR website.
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Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.