The national championship trophy sat alongside a pile of pizza boxes, but otherwise, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the Minnesota locker room was the site of a big-time celebration.
That had something to do with the ending of the Gophers’ 5-1 victory over New Hampshire in Saturday’s national title game at HSBC Arena. A year ago, the Gophers celebrated wildly after winning in overtime.
This season, things were subdued because Minnesota had a chance to do a lot of its celebrating on the bench while the game was going on.
“Last year, we hadn’t won it in 23 years,” Minnesota forward Matt Koalska said. “This year, we got the fan support but it was nothing like last year. Obviously, too, winning 5-1, we got some time to celebrate on the bench.
“For the returning guys, it’s unbelievable. For myself, it hasn’t hit me. But we’ve won two here and we’re going to go for three.”
Return to Mariucci: The Gophers are planning a celebration at Minneapolis’ Mariucci Arena at 6:30 p.m. CDT on Tuesday.
First for Maturi: The national championship was the first in the tenure of Minnesota athletics director Joel Maturi, who was hired last July.
“I think any time your teams have success as this team has had now in winning back-to-back championships, it’s really the goal of college athletics,” he said. “I think sometimes we’re afraid of talking about excellence and about winning. At Minnesota, we do. … This is a goal that we have in our program.”