Lady Bulldogs are eyeing another championship
"I felt we pulled together almost a perfect hockey game for 60 minutes. ... I was in disbelief," said head coach Shannon Miller at a March press conference following the University of Minnesota Duluth's lady Bulldogs national championship hockey ...
"I felt we pulled together almost a perfect hockey game for 60
minutes. ... I was in disbelief," said head coach Shannon Miller at a March press conference following the University of Minnesota Duluth's lady Bulldogs national championship hockey win over the Wisconsin Badgers.
I'll give you disbelief: The team might be even better this season.
Junior Kim Martin, last year's star goalie and All-American (she also won 2008 NCAA Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player award) said the team is pretty much the same and as good -- maybe a even a little better.
Last year's leading scorer was freshman Haley Irwin (23 goals and 37 assists).
Even though she was on a national championship team her freshman year, that hasn't distracted her from the team's goal this year.
"Our motivation is to win it again," Irwin said.
The team will also be returning top scoring forwards sophomore Laura Fridfinnson and juniors Saara Tuominen and Elin Holmlov.
Coach Miller said this team is more experienced.
That's an understatement.
"This year's team -- they are champions -- they earned the right to be called champions, and I think when you play as defending champions, you play with more experience," she said.
The lady Bulldogs did add six freshman to the team this year.
"We're the defending champions, we know what it takes to win and we have some new blood injected in with those six new people, and I think that's going to help," Miller said.
The lady Bulldogs open their season at Niagara University Friday, Oct. 3.
Coach Miller said, along with experience and youth, the team has a lot of depth.
As far as motivation goes for Miller, she said still wants to win -- even after winning four national championships with the Bulldogs and coaching team Canada to the silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics.
"Once you've coached at the Olympic games ... I don't even feel pressure at the Frozen Four, I really don't," Miller said. "I have a tremendous amount of fun."
Winning hasn't gotten old for Miller either.
"The one question that people have asked me: Once you win three, once you win four, does it get old?" she said. "It doesn't get old. I still have a hungry heart, and that's one of the reasons I am successful as a coach ... the day that I don't, I'll be doing a different job."
Even though many things are on the up and up with the Bulldogs women's hockey team, there is still some controversy.
The NCAA hockey career is up in the air for the team's Iya Gavrilova, who was the fifth leading scorer (19 goals and 22 assists).
Gavrilova, is currently being investigated by the NCAA for being paid to play hockey in her home country of Russia.
The investigation began before the playoffs last year. Even though she is attending UMD, she hasn't been able to participate in team activities (she did have surgery recently to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament).
Coach Miller had no comment about the investigation.
-- The Duluth News Tribune contributed to this report
For ticket information, call 726-8595 or visit www.umdbulldogs.com . Single game tickets go on sale Monday at 10 a.m.
Oct. 10: University of Minnesota at 7:07 p.m
Oct. 11: University of Minnesota at 7:07 p.m.
Oct. 24: Minnesota State University Mankato at 7:07 p.m.
Oct. 25: Minnesota State University, Mankato at 7:07 p.m.
Nov. 22: University of North Dakota at 3:07 p.m.
Nov. 23: University of North Dakota at 3:07 p.m.
Nov. 28: Dartmouth College at 7:07 p.m.
Nov. 29: Dartmouth College at 3:37 p.m.
Dec. 5: Bemidji State University at 7:07 p.m.
Dec. 6: Bemidji State University at 7:07 p.m.
Dec. 13: Princeton at 3:07 p.m.
Dec. 14: Princeton at 3:07 p.m.
Jan. 9: University of Wisconsin at 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 10: University of Wisconsin at 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 20: Team USA at 6:07 p.m.
Jan. 30: St. Cloud State University at 7:07 p.m.
Jan. 31: St. Cloud State University at 7:07 p.m.
Feb. 13: Ohio State at 7:07 p.m.
Feb. 14: Ohio State at 7:07 p.m.