Gopher women advance to national championship with OT win

Published 11:15 am Saturday, March 23, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — Early in overtime with the season on the line, most women’s hockey coaches would be reluctant to put their third line on the ice.

Minnesota coach Brad Frost is glad he did.

Sarah Davis scored 1:39 into overtime and the Gophers beat Boston College 3-2 on Friday in the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four semifinals for their 48th straight victory.

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“The team found a way, just like they have all year,” Frost said.

Davis took a pass from Bethany Brausen, skated to the left to deke goalie Corinne Boyles and put a shot behind the sprawling netminder. The third member of the line, Meghan Lorence, also got an assist.

“We didn’t want to play any more three-overtime games, that’s for sure,” Davis said.

Minnesota (40-0-0) scored late in the third overtime to beat North Dakota 3-2 in the quarterfinals last Saturday.

“I’m smiling like a fool now, but it’s a great day,” Davis said

If one were to pick a potential winning scorer for Minnesota, Davis and her linemates would be far down the list behind the likes of Amanda Kessel, Hannah Brandt and Megan Bozek, who have combined for 95 goals. Davis’s goal was her seventh of the season.

“From day one, we’ve been talking about how the depth of our team is probably our biggest strength,” Frost said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in all our lines, so I knew there was a chance they could score just like any other line.”

Brandt and Becky Kortum scored third-period goals for the Gophers, the defending national champion. Noora Raty finished with 26 saves. Minnesota will face Boston University, a 4-1 winner over Mercyhurst in the second semifinal, in the final Sunday.

Emily Field and Lexi Bender scored for the Eagles (27-7-3).

“It’s a tough go, but I’m so proud of the team,” Boyles said. “Everybody played great in front of me, certainly no regrets.”

Minnesota led the country in scoring at 5.36 goals per game, and Boston College was second at 4.36, but each is also known for its defensive prowess. Entering the game, Minnesota was allowing just 0.79 goals against, Boston College 1.97.

With the exception of the power play chances, the game was so up-and-down that a team rarely spent 15 seconds in offensive end before the opponent controlled the puck and began to break out of their zone.

Late in the second period, Boston College converted with the extra player when Field came out from below the right circle and took a shot. Raty made the save but left a rebound alone in front for Field to lift into the net for a 1-0 lead.