MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There were plenty of cheers for the Gophers women’s hockey team, as they beat the defending champion Wisconsin Badgers Sunday to come out on top of the Women’s Frozen Four.
For the Gopher women — winning the championship in dramatic fashion, 4-2, against the Badgers was the culmination of years of hard work.
The Gopher women are always amongst the top ranked hockey programs in the country but it has been seven long years since they brought home a championship.
The emotional celebration continued at the University of Minnesota, as the players arrived home from Duluth.
Players took turns embracing and showing off the NCAA Championship trophy as fans and family members cheered.
“We don’t have any professional leagues for women so this is really our kind of NHL,” Senior co-captain Sarah Erickson of Roseau said. “It’s really cool to hoist the trophy and bring it back to our fans.”
One of the big heroes was Emily West, who became the first woman to ever score on a penalty shot in an NCAA Championship game. She celebrated with a jump into the Gopher bench.
“I was excited,” West said. “I think everyone was. I just wanted to be with my teammates.”
The fans are thrilled. Colin Titcomb drove to Duluth for the game and was there for the U of M homecoming.
“I couldn’t love it anymore,” he said. “It could not happen to a greater group of girls.”
The last time the Gopher women won was back-to-back in 2004 and 2005 — the underclassmen say they will be fighting to win another championship next year.
And in honor of the team, Gov. Mark Dayton named Monday officially Gopher Women’s Hockey National Champions Day.