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University of Minnesota Women's Gopher hockey team posing after winning the National Championship.

University of Minnesota Gopher women's hockey team after winning their first NCAA national championship.

Gophers, Bulldogs win big in tournaments

By Rick Moore

From eNews, April 1, 2004

It's been an action-packed few days for fans of hockey and basketball at the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD). First, the UMD men's hockey team advanced to the Frozen Four for the first time since 1985 by knocking off the Golden Gophers 3-1 on Sunday, March 28, in the Midwest Regional final. A few hours later, the Gopher women's hockey players were throwing their gloves and helmets into the air to celebrate their first NCAA national championship after ambushing Harvard 6-2 in Providence, Rhode Island. In between, the Gopher women's basketball team advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time ever by beating Boston College. Then, in an even bigger upset, the Gophers beat top-seeded Duke Tuesday evening to advance to the Final Four this weekend in New Orleans. The Gopher women's hockey team, which has watched its rival UMD Bulldogs win the first three NCAA women's titles, can finally hang its own NCAA championship banner in Ridder Arena. After falling behind second-ranked Harvard 2-1 in the second period Sunday, the top-ranked Gophers responded with five unanswered goals, including two in the first 41 seconds of the third period. Natalie Darwitz had a hat trick, and the high-powered line of Darwitz, Krissy Wendell, and Kelly Stephens combined for five goals and 11 points against the Crimson. For the Bulldog men, there was a measure of revenge in beating Minnesota, the team they had swept four times in the regular season but lost to in the WCHA Final Five semifinals. By knocking off the two-time defending national champion Gophers, they reached the Frozen Four for the first time in 19 years. They will play the Denver Pioneers in the first semifinal game at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 8, in Boston. The other semifinal game features Maine against Boston College, and the championship game will be on Saturday, April 10. The Gopher women's basketball team proved once and for all on Tuesday night that they belong with the very best in beating the top-ranked Blue Devils 82-75. The red-hot Gophers are now poised to crash the biggest of dances next weekend in the Big Easy. Their reward for beating Duke? A not-so-big-easy semifinal date with the Connecticut Huskies, two-time defending national champions. The Minnesota-Connecticut game will be at either 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 4. The other semifinal game features Tennessee against Louisiana State. The winners will meet for the national championship on Tuesday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m.

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