10:14 p.m. – Tyler, Dan, and I are back in our hotel room working on piecing together the happenings of tonight’s NCAA Championship Banquet held on the campus of UW-Superior in the Yellowjacket Union.
At 6:10 p.m., the members of the team strolled into the hotel lobby dressed to the nines and ready to walk the red carpet. After a short ride to campus, the Gusties were directed to the pre-banquet social where they took a team picture (featured below) and were on their own to mingle amongst the other competing players, coaches, family, and friends in attendance. Mingling to the girls meant picture time. Much like the red carpet, flashes were popping and the ladies got a small taste of what Jennifer Lawrence’s life is now like.
After the picture taking concluded, everyone was moved into the dining hall and the banquet began. Tonight’s master of ceremonies was Tom Hansen, the sports director at the Northland News Center in Duluth.
I was seated at a table along with Tyler, Dan, our Athletic Director Tom Brown, Tom’s wife Dawn, the parents of Lindsey Hjelm, Rick and Melanie, and also Lindsey’s grandmother, Shirley. We couldn’t have picked a better table to be seated at – you’ll find out why a little later.
After dinner, a member from each of the four participating schools introduced their team and addressed the audience. Lindsey Hjelm was Gustavus’s representative. Lindsey being Lindsey, she knocked it out of the park. Hjelm congratulated the competing teams and spoke a great deal about taking advantage of the moment. Staying true to her Minnesota roots, Hjelm quoted the legendary coach Herb Brooks, stating, “You can’t be common, the common man goes nowhere; you have to be uncommon.”
After introductions, it was time for the awards portion of the night. William Kronschnabel, the commissioner of the NCHA, announced the AHCA All-America Team, the Laura Hurd Award, and the Coach-of-the-Year Award. Highlighting this segment for the Gusties was Lindsey Hjelm and Kelsey Kennedy. Hjelm was named a First Team All-American for the second straight year, and Kennedy was named to the Second Team for the first time in her career. The versatile Hjelm adds yet another accolade to her trophy case, while her smooth-skating teammate is rewarded for her efforts as Gustavus’s rock on the blue line. Plattsburgh State’s Teal Gove, the nation’s leading scorer, was named the Laura Hurd Player-of-the-Year, and her coach, Kevin Houle was named the Coach-of-the-Year.
For more details on the AHCA All-America Team, check out Tyler’s release via the link below. You should also now know why it was so fun to sit next the Hjelm family.
To cap off the night, Gustavus’s Carolyn Draayer was named the recipient of the 2013 NCAA Elite 89 award for the 2013 NCAA Division III Women’s Hockey Championship. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships. Draayer carries a 3.972 GPA in communication studies…not too bad. Gustavus has laid claim to this award since its inception at the 2010 NCAA Championship. Draayer joins Nara Higano (2010), Sarah Yungner (2011), and Marah Sobczak (2012) in the club of Elite 89 winners from Gustavus
To read more about Draayer’s award and to hear from her academic advisor, check out the link below.
Following NCAA protocol, Tom Brown, Mike Carroll, Mitch Bockenstedt, and myself attended the pre-tournament meeting after the banquet. Each school is represented by its head coach, athletic director, athletic trainer, and sports information director at the meeting. The ins and outs of the weekend spanning topics from skate sharpening to media protocol is gone through at the meeting. After 30 minutes, it’s back to the hotel for the rest of the night.
When I meet up with Tyler at the hotel he is busy getting quotes from our award winners. After that, it’s back to the room and back to work.
Here are a couple more notes from tonight. Props to the staff at UW-Superior for putting together such an amazing banquet and dinner. Everyone from Gustavus was so truly impressed and appreciative of such an outstanding effort. Congrats once again to tonight’s award winners, Lindsey, Kelsey, and Carolyn.
It is to bed for us. Tyler informed me that the tattoos are back and that they have been supplied to the team from former goaltender Danielle Justice, who apparently shipped them to Superior from New Zealand, where she is currently traveling. Temporary tattoos have been tradition of Gustauvs’s at the finals the past several seasons and this year is no different. Look for a big dragon/flower/cartoon/etc. on the necks of the players tomorrow.
Gustavus Sports Information Director Ethan Armstrong will be with the Gustavus women’s hockey team at the 2013 NCAA Division III Women’s Hockey Championship finals this weekend in Superior, Wisconsin. He will be blogging periodically throughout Gustavus’ stay in Superior. To signify when Ethan installs a new post, a chronological number (i.e. I, II, III) will be placed at the end of each headline.
The below photos are courtesy of Dave Harwig of viewthroughmylens.net and Dan Coquyt of Gustavus.