When Clarkson University won its first NCAA women’s hockey national championship in 2014, Spring Lake Park High School standout and Blaine native Taylor Turnquist was in attendance during the banner raising. She was on a recruiting visit and thought to herself, “I can’t even imagine this feeling.”
Now she knows exactly what that feeling is like.
Clarkson won its second national title on March 19 with a 3-0 win against No. 1-seeded Wisconsin. On the Golden Knights team is Turnquist, who played in all 41 games as a freshman defenseman.
“It’s hard to put it all into words because it’s been so amazing,” Turnquist said. “It was an unreal experience. My teammates are so awesome and so are the coaches. To be able to win a national championship, it’s something I’ve dreamt of for so long. Now to be a part of it, it’s so crazy.”
Clarkson finished its season 32-4-5 and on an 11-game winning streak. The Golden Knights beat the likes of Cornell (3-1) in the national quarterfinals, two-time defending national champions Minnesota (4-3) in the semifinals and Wisconsin in the title game.
Turnquist scored one goal and recorded six assists during the season. This was after playing her last two years of high school hockey as a forward.
“My biggest adjustment was just the speed of the game,” she said. “It was also just adjusting back to defense. I had to work through some kinks. But overall, the biggest challenge was the speed of the game.”
Clarkson is becoming a household name in women’s hockey since the program’s inception in 2003-04. Along with two national championships, the Golden Knights have played in six NCAA Tournaments, three Frozen Fours and have won three Eastern College Athletic Conference titles.
So how does a university in the town of Potsdam, New York, a population of less than 20,000 people, compete with the bigger schools?
“I just think it comes down to that I’ve never been a part of a team that goes to the rink every day and has this much fun,” Turnquist said. “This team here goes into practice every day and everyone has a smile on our face. But we’re there to work hard. That’s our biggest thing, we come every single day to work hard and get better. That gives us the ability to compete at a high level.”
Turnquist said she always thought of going east after high school. She knew she could call Clarkson home the second she stepped on campus for her first visit.
While the town won’t offer as much as a Minneapolis or Madison, Wisconsin, Turnquist is getting the ultimate college hockey experience.
And that includes a national championship ring.
“It’s so small, the town of Potsdam,” Turnquist said. “There’s not much here, but you have to love it. The community is so supportive of us. Every single person enjoys hockey and the support is so crazy.”