March 21, 2013
The only teams winning championships in Minnesota these days are women. The Lynx won the WNBA title in 2011 and made the finals in 2012. Meanwhile, the Gopher women’s hockey team just capped a perfect 41-0 season with their second straight NCAA title.
So why does anyone hesitate to call this Gophers team the best ever?
Coach Brad Frost wasn’t willing to claim the top spot, settling for calling his team “one of the best ever, if not the best ever.” ESPN’s Mike Cook came close, but qualified his open-and-shut case with a “maybe.” Even goalie Noora Raty couldn’t quite bring herself to make a simple, straightforward declaration.
“No other team has done this, so we’re a better team than anyone else has been throughout the years,” Raty said after the championship final.
Well, if they won’t say it, I will: This is the best women’s hockey team ever, and has to be counted as one of the greatest college athletic teams in any sport. This team averaged more than five goals a game while giving up fewer than one. It won by three or more goals 80 percent of the time. And only three times did an opponent even finish a game within one goal of them.
Thank heavens for Bob Sansevere of the Pioneer Press, who’s never afraid to take a bold stance — except it’s not so bold in this case.
“When you have the first perfect season in your sport and win the national title, it’s OK,” he wrote.”You can say it. Best. Team. Ever.”