HAMDEN, USA – Clarkson University’s Shannon MacCaulay scored the eventual game winner with 4:16 left in the third period of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Hockey Championship Game to give the Golden Knights their first-ever national title in any sport, getting past the powerhouse Minnesota Gophers 5-4.
Clarkson’s victory also marked the first time a team outside the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) stood atop college hockey since the first women’s hockey title game was staged in 2001.
“The girls believed in themselves all year, even incoming into [Sunday], I just had a feeling about the way they were going to come out to play. They weren’t going to back down, and they proved it, and I thought they stuck with it very well,” Clarkson co-head coach Matt Desrosiers told reporters following the game.
Located in Potsdam, New York, Clarkson (est. enrollment of 3,500) finishes its 2013/2014 campaign 35-5-5; seven wins better than its previous best last year.
For Minnesota, the loss was just its second all season. The juggernaut Gophers sought a third-straight national title after winning the past two seasons, including an undefeated season in 2012/2013.
“I’m just so proud of our players and our team, and obviously it’s tough to be in this situation when we’ve been on the other end of it and know how great it feels, but I’m very blessed to have the players that we do and the staff that we do,” Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said disappointedly following the game.
The two finalists entered the third period knotted at three-goals apiece when senior defenseman Vanessa Plante broke the tie at 8:28, beating Amanda Leveille from the high slot.
MacCaulay’s goal extended the lead at 5-3, before Minnesota’s Baylee Gillanders trimmed the margin to 5-4 with 3:41 left in the tilt. Despite throwing 38 shots at Clarkson goalie Erica Howe, the Gophers ultimately could not get the tying goal in the waning minutes of the third period.
Howe made 38 saves to help secure the national title.
The 2014 National Title Game coincides in the same year the 2014 Sochi Olympic Hockey Tournament was staged. Minnesota enrolled two women in Team USA’s residency program to prepare for Sochi and in the process not competing for the Gophers.
That duo includes defenseman Lee Stecklein and forward Amanda Kessel – sister of Toronto Maple Leafs and Team USA forward Phil Kessel.
Kessel was named the 2012/2013 women’s player of the year, posting 101 points in 37 games during the Gophers perfect season.
Both Kessel and Stecklein will rejoin the Gophers in the fall of 2014 in an attempt to regain the national title, which will be handed out in Minneapolis next season.
Clarkson’s Rattray earns Patty Kazmaier Award
The NCAA Women’s Frozen Four weekend also the featured the announcement of the Patty Kazmaier Award recipient – handed out annually to the top player in collegiate women’s hockey.
Again, it was another victory and another first for Clarkson as senior forward Jamie Lee Rattray took home the award on Saturday.
"I'm a true believer that hard works pays off and especially at this level. Everything is earned and nothing comes easy," Rattray said in her acceptance speech.
The Kanata, Ontario resident finished the season second in NCAA scoring with 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists) as Clarkson won its first national title.
Rattray also becomes the fifth Canadian to win the Patty Kazmaier Award since the NCAA began awarding it in 1998. She joins the likes of Olympic Gold Medalist Jennifer Botterill (Harvard University) who was the first Canadian to be named the top player in women’s college hockey in 2001
Joining Rattray were Hannah Brandt (University of Minnesota) and fellow Canadian Jillian Saulnier (Cornell University) as the other finalists for the award.
"Jamie Lee is the definition of hard work paying off," Matt Desrosiers, co-head coach of Clarkson University, said to reporters following the announcement. "The energy she brings to every practice and game is unmatched and is infectious to the rest of her team.”
In the title game against Brandt’s Minnesota Gophers, Rattray posted a goal, assists and six shots in her final collegiate game.
Internationally, Rattray has represented Canada in various tournaments, including the gold medal winning U18 squad in 2010.