The University of Minnesota women's hockey team held its Media Day Tuesday afternoon at Ridder Arena. Head coach Brad Frost was accompanied by team captains Megan Bozek and Bethany Brausen to answer questions from the local media. Below are a few questions highlighting the event along with the video posted above.
COACH FROST: I can't believe the season is here already, but we are very excited and ready for that. We are getting going Friday night against Colgate, and I think it is the first time that we have played them; at least it is in the 12 years that I have been here. So we don't know a lot about them, but we are still excited to get them into our barn here on Friday and Saturday.
Our two captains are senior defender Megan Bozek and junior Bethany Brausen, and so we know that we have great leadership from these two but also our strong senior class. We lost a lot certainly last year with our senior class, who contributed a bunch for us and helped us win the national championship.
We add seven new players in six freshmen and a transfer. Coming into the season, we would expect them to contribute early for us. More importantly our returners, which we have 15 of those from last year's team, we hope they can elevate their game and help in the scoring area this year.
We are deep in all positions, which is exciting for us. At our goaltender position, Noora Raty returns for her senior year, and she is a two-time All-American. She is obviously a tremendous goalie and one of the best in the world, if not the best. We have a freshman in Amanda Leveille from the Ottawa area, who will get some time this year. She has shown some great things already here in the first week of practice.
At the defensemen positions, we are led my Megan [Bozek] and Mira Jalosuo, who is a senior as well. We have two new freshman defensemen in Milica McMillen and Lee Stecklein, who are both highly touted players. Megan [Bozek], who is 5-9 or 5-10 is probably our shortest defenseman this year, so we have some big kids back there who all can shoot and move the puck. So we are really excited about all six of our defensemen on the backend.
And then upfront, we are definitely led by junior Amanda Kessel, our leading scorer from last year and an All-American as well. We also expect big things from Bethany Brausen, Kelly Terry, Sarah Davis, Rachael Bona, Meghan Lorence and then some of our freshmen too.
We are just super excited about the year. It is just a great time of year, and it is a brand new team for us. We can't look at last year's team and think we are going to be identical to that because we are a completely different team. Having said that, we will have the same goals of winning the WCHA conference and tournament. Obviously, getting to the Frozen Four, which is being held here at Ridder Arena come March. It is a great opportunity for us to play in a great environment and play back here in front of our own fans.
Our league is tremendous again, as it always has been. There is a reason our league has won the last 13 national championships. Today it came out that we are favored and picked to finish first in the WCHA. North Dakota also received a vote for I believe the first time in their history, and Wisconsin received the other first-place vote and then us getting six. Wisconsin, North Dakota, Duluth and us should all be in the mix again for the conference title. As you all know, if you can win your conference tournament and/or the conference regular season championship, there is a good chance you will be contending in March, which is what we hope to be doing.
Again, we look forward to the year, and thanks for being here. We will now answer any questions you may have.
What does it give the team to have that trophy sitting there and have that experience to have made it all the way and won it? How does it change the aura surrounding the team and the program?
BETHANY BRAUSEN: I think Coach Frost has already emphasized. It has been really, really great and a great experience, especially with all the returners coming back. It is really cool to have that experience under your belt. However, the big focus this year is that that was last year and that it where it stays. It gives you something to strive for. Like you said, it also something that we need to know that it is not an indication of how this season will go. It will be just as hard, if not even harder now that we have that big 'X' on our back. Thought it was great to get the monkey off our back last year, I think it is very important, especially this year, that we come out and hopefully, do the same thing this season.
With having been on a coaching staff that has won a couple national titles and done it back-to-back as well, what is tougher winning a national championship, or trying to repeat the next year?
COACH FROST: It is going to be really difficult. I told our players, and both Megan and Bethany have done this, but when you have the 'M' on your chest, it is hard enough. There are so many players on other teams within the WCHA that would love nothing more than to kick the Gophers around a little bit. That may be because they didn't get recruited, or they did and we went with another. Whatever the reason, we are a team that has been near or at the top ever since our program started. So we have the 'M' on our chest and now the target on our back, and I think that is exciting. Wisconsin dealt with it, Duluth dealt with it, we dealt with it in 2004 and 2005, and it did bring out the best of every team. Our players are aware of that we will have to be at our best every game, and we will take it chip-by-chip and hopefully, end out on top. But it's difficult, and if people think it is easy...they are nuts. Again, we are going to focus on the process of the things that we do well because March is a long ways away. I know that is what everybody wants to talk about - repeating, back-to-back national championships, etc. - but that is so far out of our minds right now.
Does having a new group of players that are so highly skilled generate more competition in practice?
MEGAN BOZEK: Absolutely. The battle in practice is as if we were playing Wisconsin. We know that if we set a high standard for ourselves, then we won't expect anything less than everyone's best every day. So we have a healthy rivalry when we play games in practice, but it will make everyone better in the long run.
Gophers Host Media Day
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