Jan. 20, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - After growing up playing boys hockey in Coon Rapids, Minn., and watching Gopher greats Krissy Wendell and Natalie Darwitz skate for the Maroon and Gold, Rachael Bona's decision to attend the University of Minnesota was an easy one. The junior winger is second on the team with 38 points and has already surpassed her point total from a year ago.
How did you first start playing hockey?
My brother played hockey, and I wanted to be just like him. I started skating outside with my mom while my brother was at practice. I was around three years old when I first started skating.
What was it like playing boys youth hockey?
I played boys hockey through my seventh grade year, and then I started playing high school girls hockey for Coon Rapids in eighth grade. I loved playing with the boys. I wish I could still play with boys, to be honest. I definitely think it helped develop my game. You can't check in peewee boys hockey now, but you could then. It helped me learn things like having my head up. If I didn't do it, I would get nailed.
How did you choose the University of Minnesota?
I grew up a huge Gopher fan. I remember coming to games and watching Krissy Wendell and Natalie Darwitz. I always wanted to be a Gopher, so it wasn't really that difficult of a decision.
What is your pre-game routine?
I have so many pregame rituals! Nearly everything I do is exactly the same every single game. Before the games, I go upstairs with Brook Garzone at the same time, and we do the same stretches in the same order. Every stretch we do, we have a little something different, but we have to end on our left every time. We play football after that. I'm the one who says the cheers before the game and in-between periods, and I say them at the exact same time. I sit in the exact same spot. I look at Sarah Davis during a certain song at the same time. It could go on and on and on.
Who are your role models?
When I came in as a freshman, I looked up to Sarah Erickson a lot. She was the team captain my freshman year, and she is such a great leader and a great person on and off the ice. I really admire her. She works hard all the time and was one of the best captains I've ever had playing hockey.
What do you think makes Gopher women's hockey so successful?
I think our team atmosphere is really important. We have great chemistry on and off the ice. We have great coaches who are also great people. I think we're all great hockey players, but we're also great people and we're all such good friends.
What's your favorite rink to play at away from home?
I like Harvard's rink a lot. We played out there my freshman year. It was small and nice. In the WCHA, North Dakota has a really nice rink, so it's fun playing there.
What is your favorite off-ice memory as a Gopher?
We have a lot of fun going to Coach Johnson's cabin. Usually we go at the beginning of the year, and last winter, we went there for the first time during the winter. It was a lot of fun. We played hockey on the lake and had a fire and did all these cute, fun things together as a team. That was a great memory.
What does the team need to focus on in the second half of the season?
I think we just need to keep playing how we have been playing and remember the importance of every single game. Every game has an impact at the end of the year with what seed we get in every tournament, so I think we need to finish strong and have as good of a second half to the season as we did during the first half of the season.
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