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Third straight title eludes Lorence, Gophers
Meghan Lorence spent the final weekend of the college hockey season in New England chasing a national championship. Brausen and her University of Minnesota teammates fell short of a third consecutive Division I women’s hockey title but she’ll have one more chance at another title next year.
Clarkson halted Minnesota’s streak of national titles at two by upsetting the Gophers 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at High Point Solutions Arena in Hamden, Conn. Lorence, a 2011 graduate of Irondale High School, is a junior for the Golden Gophers and has played in three NCAA tournaments and three Frozen Fours.
Minnesota spent the entire season ranked No. 1 in the country while Clarkson entered the Frozen Four fourth in the national polls. The Gophers lost just once prior to the post-season this year and continued to roll by winning the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament.
As the No. 1 seed in the eight-team NCAA field, Minnesota hosted a national quarterfinal at Ridder Arena on March 15 and came away with a 5-1 victory over Boston University. The victory clinched a spot in the Frozen Four for the Gophers for the third consecutive year and 10th time in school history.
Minnesota opened the Frozen Four on Friday with a come-from-behind, 5-3 victory over arch-rival Wisconsin. The Gophers trailed the Badgers 1-0 after one period and 3-2 after two before scoring three times in the third period to win the game.
Clarkson reached the national-title game by beating Boston College 3-1 in the quarterfinals and Mercyhurst 5-1 in the semifinals.
Like it did against Wisconsin, Minnesota found itself trailing after the first period against Clarkson. The Gophers took the initial lead of the game on a goal by senior Sarah Davis but Clarkson answered with two goals in the final two minutes of the period to head to the locker room up 2-1.
The Golden Knights added to their lead early in the second period but Minnesota battled back to tie it at 3-3 on goals by sophomore Maryanne Menefee and junior Rachael Bona.
With the score tied going to the third, neither team could find the back of the net through the first half of the period. With eight and a half minutes left in the period, Clarkson got one past Minnesota goaltender Amanda Leveille to make it 4-3.
The Golden Knights added to their lead with their fifth goal of the game four minutes later and it appeared they were on their way to the title. Minnesota wasn’t done yet, however, as Gophers senior Baylee Gillanders scored with just under four minutes to play.
That would be as close as the Gophers would get as Clarkson protected its precarious lead over the final 3:41.
The Gophers outshot Clarkson 38-28.
The loss is the first Lorence has suffered in the post-season since coming to Minnesota. As a freshman, Minnesota went 34-5-2, finishing the season on an eight-game winning streak that included four wins in the WCHA playoffs and three in the NCAA tournament. The Gophers beat Wisconsin in the national-title game that season.
In her sophomore campaign, Lorence and the Gophers went a perfect 41-0 and won their second consecutive national title with a victory over Boston University. This year, Minnesota again went 4-0 in the WCHA playoffs and won its first two NCAA games before losing to Clarkson.
Through three seasons, Lorence has amassed 68 career points with more than half of them coming this season. She finished the 2013-14 season with 35 points on 18 goals and 17 assists. Minnesota is 113-7-3 in Lorence’s three seasons with the team.
Prior to joining the Gophers, Lorence played six years of varsity hockey for Irondale and helped lead the Knights to a pair of state-tournament appearances.
The championship was the first for the Clarkson women’s hockey program and the first NCAA team championship of any kind for the entire school.
NCAA has held a Division I women’s hockey tournament since 2001 and Clarkson is the first team outside the WCHA to win it. Minnesota-Duluth won the first three and has five total. Minnesota and Wisconsin have four each and now Clarkson has one.
Division I men
While the women’s college hockey season wrapped up last weekend, the road to the Division I men’s Frozen Four gets started this weekend. Among the squads in the 16-team field are the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud State University, both of whom are set to play in a regional on Saturday and Sunday at Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul.
Among the players on the St. Cloud State roster is Shoreview native Joe Phillipi, a junior goaltender who attended Hill-Murray High School. Phillipi graduated from Hill-Murray in 2008, played three seasons of junior hockey before joining St. Cloud State and was redshirted his first season with the Huskies.
Phillipi has appeared in two games during his time in St. Cloud. He is 1-0 with a goals-against average of 2.72 and a save percentage of .864.
St. Cloud State won the inaugural National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular-season championship this season but lost in the first round of the conference tournament. The Huskies had a strong enough regular season that the first-round ouster didn’t affect their status as an NCAA tournament team.
St. Cloud is seeded third in the four-team West Regional and will face second-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.
The first game on Saturday is at 4:30 p.m. and features top-seeded Minnesota against fourth-seeded Robert Morris, a team out of the Atlantic Hockey Association. Minnesota won the inaugural Big Ten Hockey Conference regular-season championship but lost in the first round of the conference tournament last Friday. Robert Morris secured its spot in the NCAA tournament by winning the AHA tournament last weekend.
The two Saturday winners will meet on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. to play for a trip to the Frozen Four, which is April 10 and 12 in Philadelphia. St. Cloud State went to its first Frozen Four in program history last year while Minnesota is trying to reach the Frozen Four for the second time in three years. The Golden Gophers have won five national championships and are fourth all-time with 20 appearances in the Frozen Four.
A third team from Minnesota made the NCAA tournament this season. Minnesota State Mankato won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament on Saturday in Grand Rapids, Mich., to automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament.
The Mavericks are the No. 3 seed in the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., and face second-seeded UMass-Lowell in the first round on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Boston College is the No. 1 seed in the regional and takes on fourth-seeded Denver in the first round. The two winners meet in the regional final on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Brian Meyers can be reached at email@example.com.