MINNEAPOLIS -- The No. 6 Golden Gopher women’s hockey team returns to action by hosting the Minnesota Whitecaps in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Friday after nearly four full weeks off from competition. Admission is free.
The Gophers have four games in nine days to kick off 2018, hosting St. Cloud State (Jan. 9) and Vermont (Jan. 12-13) in non-conference action in early January to begin the second half of the season following the exhibition game with the Whitecaps.
Two-for-One Tuesday and More
Buy one ticket and get one free for next Tuesday's game against St. Cloud State. Next Friday against Vermont is Social Media Night at Ridder Arena. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive Minnesota Gopher touch screen knit gloves. The Gophers are also pleased to host Blaine Community Day on Friday. Minnesota’s annual Skate with the Gophers event will follow Saturday’s game against Vermont.
About the Match-Up: Minnesota vs. Whitecaps
The Whitecaps are an elite, post-collegiate women’s hockey team. The team was started by Gopher alumnae Winny and Chelsey Brodt (last names now Brown and Rosenthal, respectively), along with their father, Jack Brodt. Dwayne Schmidgall and Jenny Schmidgall (now Potter) also contributed to the creation of the program. Gopher alumnae Winny Brown, Katie Frischmann, Paige Haley, Mira Jalosuo, Becky Kortum, Chelsey Rosenthal, and Shyler Sletta are on the Whitecaps’ roster this season. The last four games between the Gophers and Whitecaps have ended in a score of 5-4 with Minnesota winning three of the four contests.
Last Time Out: Gophers Take Four Points from Bulldogs
Minnesota (15-5-2, 10-4-2-0 WCHA) wrapped up the 2017 calendar year by taking four of six points from Minnesota Duluth. The Gophers recorded a 3-3 overtime tie before winning 5-0 in game two against UMD. Grace Zumwinkle (2g-3a), Nicole Schammel (2g-3a), Taylor Wente (2g-2a), and Caitlin Reilly (1g-2a) led the Gophers against the Bulldogs.
Minnesota is perfect in road games this season at 10-0-0 with first half sweeps at Bemidji State, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, Mercyhurst, and Lindenwood.
Sophie Skarzynski (6g-15a), Nicole Schammel (11g-9a), Caitlin Reilly (8g-12a), Sydney Baldwin (4g-15a), Alex Woken (7g-9a), Cara Piazza (6g-9a), Patti Marshall (1g-13a), and Kippin Keller (2g-8a) have all surpassed their point totals from last season.
• Minnesota is 13-0-1 this season when leading at the second intermission.
• Caitlin Reilly leads Minnesota with seven multi-point games so far this season.
• Cara Piazza and Alex Woken both have three game-winning goals on the season, good for fifth in the NCAA.
• Grace Zumwinkle ended the first half of the regular season with eight points (4g-4a) during a team-best four-game point streak; she had multiple points in three of her last four games.
Sydney Baldwin (4g-15a) and Patti Marshall (1g-13a) are among the WCHA’s top-scoring defensemen. Baldwin leads the WCHA and is seventh in the nation with 0.86 points per game while Marshall is third in the league and tied for 23rd in the NCAA at 0.64 points per game.
All five of Minnesota’s freshmen are seeing significant ice time this season with all four skaters picking up their first collegiate goals and goaltender Alex Gulstene playing in nine games (6-1-1). Grace Zumwinkle (11g-14a) leads the team in scoring while Taylor Wente (8g-7a), Olivia Knowles (5g-6a), and Emily Brown (2g-5a) have all registered points on the year.
WCHA’s Best Power Play
Minnesota leads the WCHA and ranks third in the NCAA on the power play, converting on 26.1 percent of attempts at 18-for-69. The Gophers rank second in the league and ninth in the nation at 88.5 percent (54-for-61) on the penalty kill. Grace Zumwinkle is tied for third in the NCAA lead with five power-play goals this season.
Sydney Baldwin recorded her 50th career point with an assist against Merrimack (Sept. 29). She is fifth on the team with 19 points (4g-15a) on the season, and her career total stands at 68 career points with 16 goals and 52 assists.
Twenty Years of Gopher Women’s Hockey
The Gophers wrapped up the 2017 calendar year with an all-time program record of 612-125-51. The 2017-18 season marks the 21st season in Gopher women’s hockey history, and Minnesota secured the program's 599th and 600th all-time wins on the road at Bemidji State earlier this season.
Skate with the Gophers
The team’s annual Skate with the Gophers event is next Saturday, Jan. 13 following the Gophers' game against Vermont. Skate with the Gophers gives fans the opportunity to skate with the team after the game. Registration is required, and online registration is now open. Capacity is expected to be reached, so act quickly to secure your spot.
Up Next: Gophers Host Huskies, Catamounts
Minnesota host St. Cloud State (Tuesday, Jan. 9) and Vermont (Friday, Jan. 12 and Saturday, Jan. 13) in non-conference action next week.
Home, Sweet Home
Despite going 5-5-2 at home to start the 2017-18 season, the Gophers have compiled a record of 115-11-12 in home games at Ridder Arena dating back to the 2011-12 season.
Frost Enters Second Decade
Head coach Brad Frost is back for his 11th season at the helm of the program with a career record of 319-53-27 in his first 10 seasons. Last season, the Gophers celebrated Frost's 300th career coaching victory with a road sweep at Ohio State in October 2016.
Eight Gophers Headed to Olympic Games
Six players with Gopher ties were named to the 2018 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team in senior Kelly Pannek, Hannah Brandt ('16), Dani Cameranesi (’17), Amanda Kessel ('16), Gigi Marvin ('09), and Lee Stecklein (’17). Alumnae Noora Räty (’13) and Mira Jalosuo (’13) are expected to represent Finland at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games as well. Megan Bozek (USA), Sarah Potomak (Canada), and Amy Potomak (Canada) were centralized with their respective national teams in preparation for the Olympic Games but were not selected for the final Olympic rosters.
Marvin leads the USA Gophers in making her third Olympic Games appearance after earning silver at both the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C., and the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Kessel and Stecklein also return to the line-up for the Red, White, and Blue after earning silver in 2014. Brandt, Cameranesi, and Pannek are making their Olympic debuts.
The PyeongChang Games kick off in South Korea on Friday, Feb. 9 and conclude Thursday, Feb. 25. The women’s ice hockey competition begins Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Kwandong Hockey Centre in the PyeongChang Coastal Cluster. The gold-medal game will be held Monday, Feb. 22 at the Gangneung Hockey Centre. The U.S. and Finland join Canada and Russia in competing in Group A.
WCHA Final Faceoff, NCAA Frozen Four Return to Ridder Arena
Minnesota will once again serve as host of the WCHA Final Faceoff in 2017-18, marking the 11th time the league’s postseason tournament has been held at Ridder Arena. All-tournament ticket packages for the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff, to be held Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4, are now on sale.
The NCAA Women's Frozen Four also returns to Ridder Arena this season, marking the fourth time the national championship will be played on the Gophers' home ice. Ticket packages are on sale now and include tickets to both national semifinals on Friday, March 16 and the national championship game on Sunday, March 18. Single-session tickets will go on sale at a later date, subject to availability. Ridder Arena hosted the NCAA Women's Frozen Four in 2010, 2013, and 2015.
Duo Serving as Captains
Seniors Sydney Baldwin and Cara Piazza are serving as the Gophers’ co-captains this year. The duo was part of back-to-back national championship teams their freshmen and sophomore years at the University of Minnesota, and they have helped the program advance to three-straight NCAA Frozen Fours. Baldwin, a health services management and human resources development major, is a Minnetonka, Minn., native. Piazza hails from Darien, Ill., and is studying mechanical engineering; she is the first Illinois native to captain the team since Megan Bozek in 2012-13.
WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year Grace Zumwinkle (Excelsior, Minn.) leads Minnesota’s talented freshmen class, which also includes defense Emily Brown (Blaine, Minn.), goaltender Alex Gulstene (Vancouver, B.C.), defense Olivia Knowles (Campbell River, B.C.), and forward Taylor Wente (Maple Grove, Minn.). Junior forward Jackie Pieper (Edina, Minn.), who spent three years at Merrimack College, rounds out Minnesota’s newcomers.
Minnesota’s 2017-18 roster includes 16 players from last year's team, which advanced to the program’s sixth-straight NCAA Frozen Four. Co-captains Sydney Baldwin and Cara Piazza and fellow seniors Sidney Peters and Caitlin Reilly lead this year’s team.
Gophers Tabbed as League Favorite
Minnesota was named the WCHA preseason favorite heading into the 2017-18 season. The Gophers collected four first-place votes and 34 points in the annual poll of the league's seven head coaches. The Gophers edged back-to-back defending WCHA champion Wisconsin by one point. Minnesota Duluth and Ohio State tied for third in the poll with 23 points each while Bemidji State (14 points), St. Cloud State (11 points), and Minnesota State (9 points) rounded out the poll.
Season Recap: A Look Back at 2016-17
Minnesota's 2016-17 season came to a close in the semifinal round of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four. The Gophers posted an overall record of 26-8-5 while going 19-4-5 in WCHA play. Minnesota finished as WCHA regular season runner-up for the second-straight year and tied for third at the WCHA Final Face-Off. Under the leadership of senior captains Lee Stecklein, Dani Cameranesi, and Kate Schipper, Minnesota produced two of the nation’s top-10 scorers, multiple All-Americans for the sixth-straight year, a program-record 17 WCHA All-Academic Team honorees, and the NCAA’s second-ranked power-play.
Gophers in the NCAA Tournament
Minnesota made its 10th-straight and 15th overall appearance in the NCAA postseason last year. The Gophers saw their streak of NCAA title game appearances come to an end at five but made the program’s sixth-straight and 13th overall appearance at the Frozen Four. Since 2011-12, the Gophers are 15-2-0 in NCAA games. Minnesota owns an all-time record of 24-10-1 in NCAA tournament games since 2000-01 as well.
Quest for Eighth National Title in 2017-18
Despite falling short of a third-straight national title in 2017, Minnesota has still won four of the last six national championships and has seven national titles overall (2000, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016). The program looks for a historic eighth title national crown in 2017-18.
Whitecaps Add Two More Gopher Alums
6/20/2018 - W. Ice Hockey
Hannah Brandt and Lee Stecklein have signed contracts to play with the Minnesota Whitecaps for the 2018-19 season.
Raty Returns to Kunlun Red Star
6/19/2018 - W. Ice Hockey
Gophers alum Noora Raty has re-signed with the CWHL’s Kunlun Red Star for the 2018-19 season.
Leveille Returns to State of Hockey
6/18/2018 - W. Ice Hockey
University of Minnesota alumna Amanda Leveille has signed with the NWHL's Minnesota Whitecaps for the 2018-19 season.