Gopher Women’s Hockey

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[Top, l-r:  Katie Frischmann (6), Rochester; Mira Jalosuo (7), Finland; Sam Downey (3), Silver Bay; Front, l-r: Megan Bozek (19), Chicago; Noora Raty (41), Finland; Becky Kortum (4), Minnetonka]

Well, it’s my alma mater.  And they are having a season for the ages.  I had to go see them.  The last weekend home series (Feb. 15 – 16) set up perfectly for a doubleheader – the women’s basketball team had a home game on Sunday (Feb. 17).  Saturday was the last regular season home game for the hockey team – it was senior day (photo above).  Plus, there was the added bonus of having them play Bemidji State and our own Abby Williams.  This would be the last time we would see Abby play, and she and her Alex teammates are totally responsible for making women’s hockey our favorite spectator sport!!  🙂

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[We followed brother Cam, from Mounds View, downtown where we would meet with his wife, Karen, for lunch before the game.  Cam would not join us for the game (girls, you know?) because he was helping emcee some big plant show in St. Paul.]

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[When you get to the Stinson cut-off, stop, cut off your Stinson!]

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[The ‘U.’  The plan was to park our car and ride with Cam back to the other end of University Avenue for lunch.]

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[The ‘U’s’ alumni center – as an alum, I have to assume it was built in my honor.]

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[“The Bank.”  We’re still waiting for our deposits to earn dividends.]

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[Mariucci, where hockey fans go to worship.]

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[For the locals, this is where Alexandria’s new high school is continuing to be designed even as it’s being constructed.]

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[It’s Cuningham Group, an architectural firm, and Karen (entering here with the supervisor) is its CFO!  🙂  She has recently returned from trips to California and Beijing, places where Cuningham is opening new offices.]

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[Cam and the supervisor walk down the hall of current Cuningham projects.]

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[And here, in a place of obvious honor, is the new Alex high school.]

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[The wall of projects.]

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[The supervisor seeks out Karen’s office, the financial heart of the business.  😉 ]

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[Cam poses in the CEO’s “office” – they believe in the minimalist approach to work space.]

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[The view out their window of Main Avenue, the Mississippi, and downtown.]

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[Where we noshed just a couple blocks away.  It has been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”]

2-16-13-24[Ridder Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  Since its inception, it has taken a lot of abuse – mostly from those opposed to women’s sports in general and particularly from those who don’t think the Gopher women’s hockey program deserved its own arena.  Poppycock!!  (OK, I was being nice.)  We love the place.  A perfect venue for what it’s suppose to be.  We think the girls’ state high school tournament should be held here – but understand the attraction of wanting to play at the Xcel Center.  But Ridder is convenient to ramp parking, convenient to other sports venues on campus, and convenient to Dinkytown.  It’s still a beautiful, new facility without a bad seat in the house.  It will host this year’s WCHA tournament and the NCAA’s Frozen Four.  Try it!  You’ll like it!]

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[The Bemidji State Beavers]

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[The Minnesota Golden Gophers]

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[And here come the Gophers (though “Weakie” will insist to his dying breath that they aren’t gophers but ground squirrels!)  The crowd looks light here, but as the game began I’d say they had a sell-out crowd.]

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[And her comes Abby (3) – same as her high school number.]

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[Warm-ups]

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[Rachel Ramsey (5), 6-foot sophomore defenseman from Minnetonka, discusses the benefits of pre-game carb loading with the coaches.]

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[Hey!  Abby!]

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[We’ll put her in whenever she pops up!  😉 ]

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[Three of the four refs were women.  The guy ref will be a local surprise.]

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[Freshman Hanna Brandt (22), Hill-Murray, the 2nd-leading scorer in the country this year.]

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[Senior Becky Kortum (4), Minnetonka.  We stood in line to buy tickets for the game with her aunt.  The first guy in line apparently wanted a complete history of every seat in the house.  The other lines were moving.  Finally, we all got a little grumpy and tried to advise the guy there were other people in line.  We never did register with him?]

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[Amanda Kessel (8), junior, Madison, WI, is the leading scorer in the country; Maryanne Menefee (14) is a freshman from Lansing, MI.]

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[Noora Raty (41), senior goalie from Finland and goalie for their national team.]

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[Our Abster.]

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[It seemed her task was to shadow Kessel whenver they were on the ice together.]

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[Her role with the Beavers is mostly defensive – so I’m sure she enjoys firing off a few practice slappers.]

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[“Goldy”]

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[Recently voted best mascot in the country!  🙂 ]

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[The seniors are introduced.  In this game, Megan set the Gopher all-time record for points by a defenseman.  Her slapshot is not something to be trifled with!]

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[With family]

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[The competition . . . and she has a bigger camera!]

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[Sam]

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[Katie]

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[Mira]

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[Becky]

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[Noora]

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[The Flying Finns]

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[Congrats to all for a great year!]

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[Go Gophers!]

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[The wheels on the bus go round and round . . .]

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[and round and round.]

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[Meet the band.]

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[Meet the Beavers!]

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[LET’S PLAY HOCKEY!]

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[Kessel in the zone.  She is impressive – incredibly fast.]

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[Go, Abby!]

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[The Beavers lost 8 – 0 to the Gophers the night before.  You could tell in this game that did sit well with them – they played their hearts out.]

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[I’d like to see a race between Amanda and Kelly Terry (10).  🙂 ]

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[Maryanne (14?) with a shot on goal.  This reflects the tone of the game.  The Gophers size and speed advantage is overwhelming – so the Beavers threw themselves in front of every shot and their goalie played a great game.]

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[It may be a no checking sport but it’s still physically punishing.]

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[Abby mixes it up on a face-off.]

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[Then with her teammates gets ready to face a barrage of Gopher slapshots.]

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[Beavers try to clear their zone with all 6-feet of Mira getting the way.]

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[TV timeout?  Fat chance in women’s hockey – blecccchhh!]

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[The game was consistently played in the Beavers end – and in that end they played as hard as they good to keep the puck out of their net.]

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[Hannah shoots.]

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[Abby battles Meghan Lorence (20), a sophomore from Irondale high, where Cam and Karen’s kids went to school.  Cam will actually admit to seeing Meghan play in high school.]

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[Oops, maybe that was Hannah above too.  Here she gives Abby a little forearm shiver to the back.  ;-0 ]

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[Abby shadows Hannah.]

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[And sticks with her.]

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[Another local fan favorite – Erika Wheelhouse (14), senior from Crookston.  A truly excellent player.  With her older sister, Marlee (who graduated last year and is Abby’s age), the Wheelhouses led their Crookston team into Alex to play during the holiday break, in I believe their senior years.  Great game.  1 – 1 tie in OT and even the Alex fans didn’t want to see either team lose.]

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[The Beavers’ Emily Erickson (10), senior, Coleraine, tested Noora.]

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[If you’ve been paying attention, you can tell we’re in the 2nd period now.  0 – 0 after one.]

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[Kessel surrounded by three Beavers.]

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[Amanda and Hannah v. 6 Beavers!]

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[Gophers’ Milica McMillen (13) marks a Beaver.  You read all about Milica in the previous post.]

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[Milica heading back toward her goal.  Trouble for the Gophers?]

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[Sadie Lundquist (17) is a senior forward from Cloquet for the Beavers.]

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[The Beavers score first!  Kaitlyn Tougas (9), a freshman from Thunder Bay.  Ridder is dazed!]

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[The Gophers didn’t like that at all, obviously.  Shortly thereafter Amanda tied it at one.]

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[And Megan got an assist.]

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[And here’s our Alex connection.]

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[His folks, Sue and Jay, live on Lake Carlos.]

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[Showing a little Lake Carlos two-step to Abby!  😉 ]

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[Ms. Terry.  Thought it would be blurred.  Appears to be as speedy as Ms. Kessel.]

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[Ms. Kortum]

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[Two 5’11″‘s mix it up.  Baylee Gillanders (27), junior for the Gophs from Saskatchewan, and Natasha Kostenko (64), sophomore for the Beavers from Manitoba.]

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[Mr. Diebold probably questioning his decision to become a hockey referee?  😉 ]

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[Erika trying to cover Kessel, Brandt, and Jalosuo.]

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[A fluttering puck – like trying to capture a butterfly.]

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[911?  I’d like to report a multi-player pile-up just outside the Bemidji crease.]

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[Here comes Abby!]

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[The Beavers struck again!  Ms. Tougas for a second time.]

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[Uffda, they’re pesky!]

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[Meghan]

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[But, as before, the Gophers tied it up again almost immediately – Rachel from Becky!]

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[Gopher fans are delighted!]

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[Gophers try a final flurry in regulation.]

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[We’re going to OT folks.  With two of the last three Cardinal games going into OT, that meant I was present for three overtime games in the space of less than a week.  That puts a lot of stress on a 65-year old heart!!]

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[Do we get time-and-a-half for overtime?]

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[OT begins.]

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[The Gophers won on a goal by Mira shortly into the extra period on a power play.  Bemidji was not happy about how the game ended – they thought the penalty was a questionable call.  It was a hard, fast-paced game that was great from a fan standpoint.]

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[The winning goal – the Gophers’ 40th consecutive win.  For the life of me, I can’t understand why this team does not sell out every game?]

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During the game we were visited by a couple of famous Alex alums:

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[Nikki Ecklund and Kat DelZoppo from our 2008 state championship team.]

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[Then Abby came up after the game to join her old teammates.  She and her Beaver teammates were still quite upset, however, about the game ending penalty call.]

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[It was great to see them all again.  Nikki is getting married this summer and, as I understand such things, Del and Abby are going to be bridesmaids?]

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