UPDATED: March 22, 2015, 9:45 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS—For the third time in 11 years, the Minnesota women's ice hockey team denied Harvard the NCAA title, defeating the Crimson, 4-1. The championship game loss came after Harvard (27-6-3, 16-4-2 ECAC) made its first NCAA Frozen Four appearance since 2005.
Before Minnesota (34-3-4, 22-2-4 WCHA) junior forward Hannah Brandt was a two-time NCAA champion, she was a late cut from the 2014 National Team and a runner-up for the 2015 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, the highest honor in collegiate women’s ice hockey.
A few minutes into the 2015 Frozen Four title game against Harvard, Brandt was the victim of another blindsiding hit, this one from Harvard sophomore forward Sydney Daniels.
Enough must have been enough. Almost nine minutes into the final period, Brandt enacted her revenge by collecting a cross outside the crease and lifting the puck past Crimson junior goalie Emerance Maschmeyer to give the Gophers a 2-0 advantage.
“Good players make plays,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “She’s always had a lot of poise, great hands, and an eye for the net.”
Despite a later goal from Harvard senior forward Sarah Edney, the lead proved insurmountable. Bolstered by a pair of insurance scores, Minnesota emerged from the Ridder Arena with a 4-1 victory over the Crimson and, for the sixth time in program history, a national title.
Meanwhile, Harvard (27-6-3, 16-4-2 ECAC) left a championship matchup empty-handed for the fourth time in the Frozen Four era. Three of these defeats have come at the hands of the Gophers.
“We had to play our most complete game of the year tonight to beat Harvard,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “Had we lost tonight, I still would’ve been very proud of these kids because it was a great year regardless of the outcome.”
On an afternoon in which the two teams combined for one goal in the first 40 minutes, the third period proved to be a decisive explosion of offense.
Halfway through the frame, Brandt’s finish launched the sellout home crowd into euphoria, but the delirium only lasted about six minutes. With 4:54 remaining, Edney swung the momentum back towards the Crimson by firing a tight-angle shot from the left wing past Minnesota netminder Amanda Leveille.
“Getting that goal was huge for us,” senior forward Kalley Armstrong said. “We were just hoping to get a couple of bounces going our way…[and] go out there as hard as we could.”