APU women ski to sweep

Bjornsen, Brennan and Brooks top Super Tour Finals podium

Anchorage Daily NewsMarch 25, 2012 

Sadie Bjornsen of APU on her way to winning the Women's Mass Start 10-K Classic at the Super Tour Finals in Craftsbury Common, Vermont March 25, 2012. APU skiers took the top three places in the race. Rosie Brennan second and Holly Brooks third.

HERB SWANSON

The women from the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center owned the podium Sunday at the Super Tour Finals in Craftsbury, Vt.

Led by Sadie Bjornsen, who won the 9.6-kilometer mass-start classic race, APU women finished 1-2-3 and placed four skiers in the top five on the second leg of the five-stage event.

Bjornsen clocked 31 minutes, 15.6 seconds in warm, slushy conditions to top teammate Rosie Brennan (31:21.3) by nearly six seconds, and teammate and Olympian Holly Brooks of Anchorage (31:41.8) by about 26 seconds. Also, APU's Becca Rorabaugh finished fifth in 31:56.0.

In Saturday's opening prologue, the APU went 2-3-4-9, with Brooks taking second place, Bjornsen third, Rorabaugh fourth and Brennan ninth.

Bjornsen's victory Sunday earned her $500. Brennan picked up $300, Brooks $200 and Rorabaugh $100.

Because of warm temperatures, the women's race, and the men's 14.4-K classic race, were skied on a figure-eight course of nearly 2.5-K.

In the men's race, Olympian Kris Freeman (41:11.7) out-sprinted Noah Hoffman (41:13.3) for the victory, and APU's Erik Bjornsen took third in 41:27.2. Bjornsen, who won $200 Sunday, tied for third place in Saturday's prologue.

Competition continues Tuesday with a classic sprint and Wednesday with a hill climb.

The women's 30-K freestyle national championship race is Friday and the men's 50-K freestyle national championship is Saturday.

2012 Super Tour Finals

Craftsbury, Vt.

Sunday's results

Women's 9.6-K Classic

Top 3 - 1) Sadie Bjornsen, APU, 31:15.6; 2) Rosie Brennan, APU, 31:21.3; 3) Holly Brooks, APU, 31:41.8.

Other Alaskans - 5) Becca Rorabaugh 31:56.0; 11) Caitlin Patterson 33:57.1; 13) Chelsea Holmes 34:08.1; 27) Sarah Cresap 35:48.2; 29) Celia Haering 35:57.9; 31) Lauren Fritz 36:09.0; 36) Crystal Pitney 36:23.8; 54) Erika Klaar 38:14.1.

Men's 14.4-K Classic

Top 3 - 1) Kris Freeman, Vail, 41:11.7; 2) Noah Hoffman, Vail, 41:13.3; 3) Erik Bjornsen, APU, 41:27.2.

Other Alaskans - 15) Reese Hanneman 43:11.6; 16) Tyler Kornfield 43:15.1; 20) David Norris 43:21.2; 31) Erik Soederstroem 44:49.1; 40) Peter Kling 45:21.4; 45) Andy Liebner 45:53.2; 60) Scott Patterson 46:57.9; 62) Donald Haering 47:10.3; 72) Forrest Mahlen 47:58.6; 70) Jack Novak 48:22.7; 71) Erin Phillips 48:40.8.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota learned its lesson. The Gophers weren't going to let another three-goal lead slip away.

Erik Haula scored his 20th goal of the season, Taylor Matson added a goal and assist and No. 2 seed Minnesota beat top-seed North Dakota 5-2 to win the NCAA West Regional on Sunday.

Ben Marshall, Travis Boyd and Nate Condon also scored for Minnesota (28-13-1), which advanced to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2005. Kent Patterson made 24 saves for the Gophers, who will play top-seeded Boston College in the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla., from April 5-7.

Ferris State and Union (N.Y.) College will face each other in the other national semifinal.

"You've got to win," said Minnesota coach Don Lucia, the former UAF bench boss. "Nobody's going to give it to you. You've got to go play to win and tonight they did. And they have most of the year in that situation."

The Gophers held on to their three-goal lead, something they weren't able to do a week earlier against UND in the WCHA playoffs.

After winning the regular-season title, Minnesota faced North Dakota in the WCHA semifinals last weekend and held a 3-0 lead after dominating the first 30 minutes. But UND scored six straight times, including five in the third period, to beat the Gophers and went on to win the tournament with a 4-0 win against Denver the next day.

"We kind of wanted to get that last game out of our system against North Dakota," Matson said. "When we're facing North Dakota, if you can't get up for that game, you can't get up for any game. The bench was great all night. We were motivating guys on the bench and everyone was excited."

Haula, Matson and Boyd all scored in the second period for Minnesota, which outshot UND 12-2 in the second.

Danny Kristo and Mario Lamoreaux scored for North Dakota (26-13-3), which was 11-2 in NCAA regional games entering Sunday. Aaron Dell finished with 19 saves in goal for UND, which believed it could rally even when trailing by three late in the third.

After all, North Dakota had done it just a week earlier.

"I thought we needed to get one," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "Whether or not we could have rattled them at all, I don't know. I don't know what we had for shots on goal in the third period, but I know we had some great opportunities." Patterson stopped 14 shots in the third as North Dakota outshot the Gophers 15-4 in the final period. Patterson went on to win Most Outstanding Player in the region after stopping 55 of the 60 shots he faced in two games.

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