Column: Women’s hockey streak ended at a good time, ya feel me?

November 19, 2013

What a run.

So impressive, in fact, that it’s going to take time before it finds its appropriate place in college sports history.

The Gophers women’s hockey team’s unprecedented 62 straight wins might not get its due respect until college women’s hockey gets more popular, but credit that team and the streak for helping bring the sport to the national stage.

This year, ESPN showed a clip of the Gophers’ comeback win against St. Cloud State, and ESPN personality John Buccigross tweeted about the streak regularly.

The 62-game winning streak is up there with UCLA men’s basketball’s 88-game winning streak and UConn women’s basketball’s 90-game streak.

But, in a way, this streak is more phenomenal than those basketball streaks because there is more parity on the ice.

In hockey, a team can outplay another team for three periods and still lose. It happens all the time.

The Gophers benefited from that, too, and snatched away a few late wins during games in which they were outplayed. But for more than 18 months, they were rarely outplayed.

That says a ton about head coach Brad Frost, who is one of the classiest guys around.

His teams were well-prepared, and they reflected his even-keeled and no-panic demeanor.

The previous record in Division I women’s hockey was 21 straight wins. Frost’s Minnesota team damn near tripled that.

In doing so, the Gophers outscored opponents by more than 250 goals. They won by an average of just more than four goals each game. And of the 62 wins, 56 were by two goals or more.

They weren’t just beating teams. They were bopping them.

While the first loss in more than a year was tough on the team, it came at a good time.

The additional attention added pressure, especially for this year’s freshman class, which wasn’t part of the streak before.

Several players on the squad haven’t had to experience a loss, the ensuing pain and the growth that comes from that.

Now this year’s squad can focus on development during the remainder of the regular season instead of keeping the streak going.

This is a different team, and players on this team are still adjusting to new roles. And with the decrease in pressure, come NCAA tournament time, everybody on the squad should be ready to compete for a third-straight national championship.

After Sunday’s loss, Frost sent out a tweet thanking coaches, fans and alumni for supporting the streak.

But those people should be thanking Frost and his team for what they’ve done for the University.

And the sport.

Ya feel me?

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