HAMDEN, CONN. - Clarkson brought an end to a couple streaks Sunday and won the women's national hockey championship.
Clarkson scored two third period goals and ended Minnesota's two-year reign atop women's college hockey, defeating the two-time Western Collegiate Hockey Association champions, 5-4 before 3,573 fans in the National Collegiate Athletic Association title game at the TD Bank Sport Center.
It was the first time the Golden Knights had celebrated a national title in any sport. In the process, they ruined Minnesota's attempt to join Minnesota-Duluth (2001-03) as the only NCAA programs to win three-straight titles. It was the first time since the NCAA started crowning a women's hockey champion in 2001 that a team from outside the WCHA won the title. UMD has won five times; Minnesota and Wisconsin have won four apiece.
Clarkson co-coach Matt Desrosiers wouldn't call it an upset.
"They are a great team," Desrosiers said of the Gophers. "Only their second loss all season, the second loss in two years, incredible. It's tough to gauge because we don't get to see these teams all the time. ... You get one game against them and anything can happen."
Minnesota coach Brad Frost was philosophical after the loss.
"Success for us is the embodiment and fulfillment of our values: being tough, grateful, disciplined and devoted," Frost said. "Hopefully, we win a lot of games along to way and we did. Unfortunately, we didn't win the biggest one here."
The teams were tied 3-3 after two periods, and Clarkson, the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference champions, took the lead on a goal by Vanessa Plante with 8:28 remaining. Shannon MacAulay made it 5-3 with a breakaway goal with 4:16 left.
Minnesota defenseman Baylee Gillanders narrowed it to 5-4 with 3:41 left, but the Gophers couldn't get the tying goal past all-American goalie Erica Howe, who finished with 34 saves.
The loss left the Gophers' season record at 38-2-1 and snapped a 26-game unbeaten streak. Clarkson won the title with a 31-5-5 record.
Gophers' captain Sarah Davis gave Minnesota the early lead at 9:40 of the first period, only to see Clarkson get two goals within 63 seconds late in the first period. Christine Lambert scored in a scrum in front of Gophers goalie Amanda Leveille at 18:37. Just over a minute later, Shelby Nisbet gave Clarkson the lead at 2-1. Nisbet's goal came during a delayed penalty on Minnesota and only 20 seconds before the end of the period.
"We normally start periods well and finish periods well," Frost said. "And this weekend, that obviously didn't happen in regard to giving up goals at big moments in the game."
On the ensuring power play, Patty Kazmaier Award winner Jamie Lee Rattray scored and the Gophers trailed 3-1 only 38 seconds into the second period. Minnesota rallied, outshot Clarkson 14-5 in the middle session and tied it with goals from Maryanne Menefee and Rachael Bona.
That set the stage for an exciting third period, which saw Clarkson snap two streaks and win its first title.
Bona, Menefee and Gillanders were named to the Frozen Four all-tournament team, joining Clarkson's Rattray, defenseman Renata Fast and Howe. Rattray was named the tournament's most outstanding player.