Memories Are Made of This
Brandi Kerns appreciates the memory more each year: storming the ice with her UNH teammates after winning the first national championship in women's hockey in 1998 and proudly skating the trophy around the Fleet Center rink.
"As the clock ticked down it was almost like disbelief," says Kerns, now a senior defenseman and captain. "It was so emotional in every way. There wasn't one person on the ice who didn't have tears of joy streaming down her face."
The tears since have not been tears of joy. There was last year's .500 record, not the kind of finish UNH hockey teams are used to. There was the early loss in the playoffs the year before that, and the devastating loss to Harvard in double overtime in the finals in 1999.
Which brings us to this year. The UNH women have motivation aplenty. The Whittemore Center will be the site of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Women's Frozen Four on March 22-24, with the best teams in the land fighting it out for the national championship in women's hockey. And Coach Karen Kay and the Wildcat skaters definitely want to be playing in the tournament, not watching from the stands.
The team started fast this season, then stumbled a bit in December. The players know it's going to be a tough road ahead. "We've used the tournament as motivation," Kerns says, "but long-term motivation." The goals are to practice hard, to win games, then titles.
Kerns has personal incentive, too. Her knees are a mess, and her final game this year will be her last for some time. She's had eight surgeries since she started at UNH and has two more coming up right after the season. But first, she and her teammates will take aim at the Frozen Four. "When we won it in '98, we didn't really understand how huge it was," Kerns says. "The next year we lost, and it became more huge. It kept growing and growing; the further we get from it, the more important it gets."
Memories will be made at the Whittemore Center in late March. Will Kerns and company claim the best of them for UNH?
--Allen Lessels '76
Editor's Note: For tickets to the Frozen Four, visit the Whittemore Center box office or call Ticketmaster at (603) 868-7300.
Friends of Women's Hockey is trying to locate alumnae of the program since the club team was formed in 1974-75 for a celebration next year, the varsity team's 25th anniversary. There will be an exhibit at the Frozen Four. E-mail UNHWomenshockey@aol.com for more information.
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