BUFFALO, N.Y. — Minnesota defenseman Matt DeMarchi was asked Friday how important it would be for his Golden Gophers to repeat.
“It would be great, it would mean a lot to the program,” he said. “If it was so easy, then a number of teams would have done it since then.”
DeMarchi certainly made sure he did his part. The lone senior in Saturday’s lineup scored the Gophers’ first goal of the game and was part of a stingy defense that limited New Hampshire all evening en route to a 5-1 win and the national title.
“Guys like DeMarchi were outstanding,” said coach Don Lucia. “All weekend long I thought he played really well. Tonight he was into it, he was vocal. He’s our lone senior and I think the guys fed off of him.”
Only half of the players dressed Saturday played in last year’s title game so DeMarchi’s leadership was sorely needed this season, especially after another anticipated senior, Jeff Taffe, left early and took his 113 career points with him.
DeMarchi has brought a physical presence to the Gopher lineup during his career, which included a school record 473 penalty minutes. This season, he had a total of 130, almost 20 percent of the minutes taken by Minnesota this season, and 52 more than the next closest player on the team.
Some of that comes with the territory of being a stay-at-home defenseman. Last season, DeMarchi was partnered with all-everything defenseman and Hobey Baker winner Jordan Leopold, who made a point of thanking him during last year’s Hobey Baker Award ceremony.
DeMarchi had six goals and seven assists on the season coming into the tournament and added a goal and two assists in the Western Regional, being named to the regional’s All-Tournament team.
“He played his best hockey in this tournament,” said Lucia. “He would be the first to tell you that he wasn’t playing as well earlier in the season. But like a lot of guys on the team, they got better and better.”
The Gophers will be without him next season and he’ll be sorely missed, but he looks forward to 2003-04.
“The future of this team is pretty unstoppable,” DeMarchi said of the squad he leaves behind. “We’ve got pretty much the whole team back next year, including the starting goalie and almost every line. This team looks very good.”
DeMarchi’s goal Saturday, and overall play this weekend, earned him a spot on this weekend’s All-Tournament team as well.
“I never thought I’d be on the All-Tournament team,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to go out like this, especially as a senior.”
The lone senior.