You would think that after capturing both the WCHA Final Face-Off and NCAA titles last season, sixth-year coach Brad Frost’s Minnesota Gophers couldn’t go any higher. You’d be wrong. You’d actually be very wrong. Minnesota women’s hockey followed up its best season since 2005 with unquestionably the greatest season in the sport’s history, rattling off 41 consecutive wins to repeat as conference and national champs in undefeated and untied fashion. Dating back to last year, the Gophers have won 49 straight games, more than doubling the previous NCAA record of 21 set by Harvard in 2008. In that his first season at the helm, Frost led the Gophers on a 21-game unbeaten streak of their own en route to a return to form from a disappointing ’06-’07 campaign. Those Gophers missed out on the NCAA tournament, but under Frost the Gophers have cinched a spot each year, an impressive turnaround that’s now culminated in perfection.
The dream season of domination, however, was not without its close calls. Minnesota nearly saw its repeat hopes dashed when Brian Idalski’s North Dakota squad took the No. 1 Gophers to triple OT in the NCAA quarterfinals. Despite the devastating loss, Idalski’s women can still hang their hats on an impressive season. Having taken over a team that finished without a conference win in ’06-’07, Idalski has the North Dakota women’s program on a steep rise. This year, North Dakota followed up a school-record 22 wins and first-ever NCAA tournament appearance with a new school-record 26 victories along with a second-straight tournament berth.
Idalski’s path to success is one which a couple of fifth-year coaches are tracing faithfully. A year after the program’s winningest season since 2002, first-ever Hockey East regular season title, and first Beanpot since 1998, Dave Flint’s Northeastern Huskies one-upped last year’s record win total along their way to the program’s second Hockey East Finals appearance in both school history, and Flint’s tenure.
Meanwhile, Quinnipiac’s Rick Seeley still has the Bobcats vying for ECAC postseason glory three years removed from the sport-record 16-win turnaround in ’09-’10. The Quinnipiac women qualified for their fourth-straight conference tournament this year, hosting an ECAC playoff series for just the second time ever, and second time under Seeley. Each coach will have his squad’s sights set on the NCAA’s in 2014.
Wins by year:
|Idalski, North Dakota||4||13||8||20||22||26|
* Took over team starting in 2009