Matteucci, Golden Knights NCAA champs

Fruitvale native Ella Matteucci and the Clarkson University Golden Knights shocked the heavily-favoured Minnesota Gophers on Sunday as they skated to a 5-4 Frozen Four final victory and their first NCAA championship.

A breakaway goal by Shannon MacAulay with under five-minutes remaining in regulation, vaulted the number-2 ranked Golden Knights into the NCAA Div. 1 women’s hockey stratosphere, eclipsing the number-1 ranked defending champion Gophers for the coveted title.

“Just thrilled beyond belief,” co-head coach Matt Desrosiers said in a post-game interview. “The girls believed in themselves all year, even coming into tonight I had a feeling about the way they were going to come out and play. They weren’t going to back down and they proved that tonight. I thought they stuck with it very well tonight and I’m just thrilled and speechless right now.”

The goal gave the Knights a 5-3 lead, and despite ceding a Gopher marker with 3:41 to play, the team would hold on for the victory.

“No one wanted it more than us, we’ve wanted it all year and we worked so hard for it,” said MacAulay.

It’s the first national title for Clarkson, 31-5-5, of any kind, and Matteucci played in all 41 games for the Knights this season.

The 21-year-old defenceman anchored a blueline that was the stingiest in the NCAA, allowing just 1.12 goals per game, and played a major role in the final match, with the Golden Knights icing just four defencemen for the final game.

The Knights defeated Mercyhurst University 5-1 in the semifinal.

Matteucci received a scholarship to play for the Potsdam, N.Y. team while attending the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. where she won a national title with the Hounds in 2011.

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