BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE - 2000
Four years ago there was no women's hockey program at the University of Minnesota. Now they're national champions. The entire team--including coach Laura Halldorson--is entitled to share this token of our esteem, but we're bestowing it upon goalie Erica Killewald, a junior who played a large part in the Gophers' 32-6-1 regular season, but saved her best for the four-team American Women's College Hockey Alliance national tournament in Boston. In the semifinals against upstart upstate rival Minnesota-Duluth (a phenomenal first-year squad, laced with Olympians, against whom the Gophs had managed to compile only a 1-3-1 record), Killewald stopped 40 of 42 shots, including 16 in the final period. The next night, in the Gophers' 4-2 championship victory against top-seeded Brown, she turned back 34 shots, and was honored with the tournament's most-valuable-player award. Perhaps the tourney will be elevated to a higher status next year, when the NCAA takes it over. Regardless, the U of M ought to be in the hunt, with Killewald defending the net.