|Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-0-0, 0-0-0-0 WCHA) vs
(South) Korean National Team
Sunday, September 24 at 2:07 p.m.
Ridder Arena, Minneapolis, MN
The Gopher Women's Hockey team starts the 21st season in program history with a special exhibition game against the (South) Korean National team. The two sides will square off at Ridder Arena on Sunday, September 24, with puck drop scheduled for 2:07 p.m.
FREE ADMISSION!! Admission to Sunday's exhibition game is free and open to everyone. All seats are general admission. We look forward to seeing you there!
Remembering Kathleen Ridder – Gopher Athletics has declared Sunday as Kathleen Ridder Day at Gopher women's hockey, volleyball, and soccer. A lifelong philanthropist, advocate of equal rights for women, and active volunteer, Ridder championed various social causes throughout her entire life. She passed away on April 3, 2017, at the age of 94. Through their tireless work and generous financial support, Kathleen and her husband, Robert, were instrumental in the building of Ridder Arena, the country’s first collegiate arena dedicated to women's hockey. The Gopher women's hockey team will hold a ceremonial puck drop just before the game against Team Korea with Kathleen Ridder Crampton, Robert and Kathleen Ridder's daughter, and the team will wear helmet stickers in honor of Ridder. More on the special day and Ridder's legacy can be found on GopherSports.com.
Traffic Alert – Several activities are scheduled on campus on Sunday. Before the Gopher Women's Hockey game, the #1-ranked Gopher Volleyball team will be hosting a Noon match against Michigan State at Maturi Pavilion (formerly the Sports Pavilion). Additionally, the Minnesota Lynx will open the WNBA Finals at Williams Arena, with tip-off scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic is expected to be increased, so please plan your travel to and around the university campus accordingly.
Analyzing the Korean National Team – The South Koreans are currently ranked #22 in the IIHF women's world rankings. They earned promotion to Division 1 Group B of the 2018 IIHF World Championships after posting a perfect 5-0 record in the 2017 Division 2 Group A Championship in April. The team will play in the 2018 Winter Olympic games this coming February as the host nation.
Forward Jongah Park (#9) was the leading scorer for the Koreans in April's tournament, recording 4 goals and 6 assists in the five games. Soo Jin Han (#17) also lit the lamp 4 times and added an assist, and Su Sie Jo (#16; 2G, 3A) and Suyeon Eom (#3; 1G, 4A) had 5 points apiece. In net, Do Hee Han (#20) earned 4 of the 5 victories, stopping 60 of 63 shots, while So Jung Shin (#25) recorded an 11-save shutout in the promotion-clinching game against the Netherlands.
Another storyline for the Korean squad is that a number of their players were raised in North America. One of those players is Yoon Jung Park (#23) – better known in Minnesota as Marissa Brandt, the sister of Gopher alumna and U.S. National Team forward Hannah Brandt. Marissa played collegiately at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, where she recorded 13 goals and 21 assists in 111 games. At the Division 2 Group A World Championship with the Koreans last April, she dished out 3 assists.
Recent action for the Koreans – The game against the Gophers will be the fifth contest played by the Koreans on their current tour of the Upper Midwest, and the 3rd in five days. Korea opened with a game against the Shattuck-St. Mary's prep team on Wednesday, Sept. 13, falling 7-2. They then travelled to Madison but got routed 8-0 by Wisconsin this past Saturday (9/16), being outshot 60-5; Alexis Mauermann tallied two goals and an assist, and Claudia Kepler also lit the lamp twice for the Badgers, while Korean goaltender So Jung Shin kept it from being worse by making 52 saves. Before making their way to Ridder Arena, the Koreans played at Bemidji State on Wednesday, Sept. 20 and at St. Cloud State on Friday, Sept. 22.
Analyzing the Gophers – Minnesota is looking to reload in the 2017-2018 season. Between graduations and national team centralization in preparation for the Olympics, the top six scorers from last year's Gopher squad, accounting for 65% of goals and 68% of total 2016-2017 scoring, are gone this year. Despite those challenges, the Gophers were picked as the top team in the WCHA Preseason Coaches' Poll last week.
A trio of seniors leads the way for Minnesota entering the new season. Co-captain Sydney Baldwin is the top returning scorer, mostly from an assist perspective; her 16 points include 14 helpers plus two goals of her own. Caitlin Reilly lit the lamp the most among returning players, scoring 8 goals while adding 7 assists. Co-captain Cara Piazza tallied 6 goals and 8 assists last season.
The 69 goals allowed last year were the most yielded by Minnesota in six seasons, though they did post nine shutouts. Senior Sidney Peters went 25-8-4 last season, with a 1.66 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. Junior Emma May made 2 starts, going 1-0-1, while also having one relief appearance; she also had a 1.66 GAA with a .909 save percentage. Sophomore Serena D'Angelo made 5 relief appearances; she yielded 4 goals on 26 shots in 77 minutes of action.
Six players join the Gopher Women's Hockey family this season. Grace Zumwinkle comes in as the WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year after winning the 2017 Minnesota Ms. Hockey award as a high school senior. Emily Brown and Taylor Wente also join the Gophers after being Ms. Hockey finalists last year. Two British Columbia natives – goaltender Alex Gulstene and defenseman Olivia Knowles – round out the new freshman class. The Gophers also picked up a transfer, as Edina native Jackie Pieper joined the team after playing two seasons at Merrimack College, where she scored 9 goals and 14 assists in 70 games (3 goals and 9 assists last year).
Gophers selected 3rd in national poll – Minnesota was one of four WCHA teams to receive votes in the Preseason USCHO.com Division I Poll, being ranked 3rd with 118 voting points and 4 first-place votes. Clarkson topped the poll with 141 points and 10 first-place votes, and Wisconsin was slotted 2nd with 128 points and one first-place vote. Boston College and Minnesota-Duluth rounded out the top 5 in the poll with 110 and 87 points, respectively, while Ohio State was outside the top 10 but received 5 voting points.
Pregame Gathering, October 1 – Our first home game pregame social gathering of the season is scheduled for Sunday, October 1, starting at 11:30 a.m. at Blarney Pub and Grill in Dinkytown (412 - 14th Avenue SE). Come join us for lunch as we discuss Gopher women's hockey, along with other WCHA and NCAA news and action. We'll then head to Ridder Arena for the Gophers' second game against Merrimack at 2:07 p.m.
Postgame Reception, October 1 – The first of our two Power Play Club postgame receptions is also scheduled for Sunday, October 1, in the Ridder Arena Club Room, after the Gophers face the Warriors. We'll hear from the Gopher newcomers on how they came to their decisions to join the Maroon & Gold. Admission is free for registered 2017-2018 PPC members, and $5 for non-members.
Chalk Talk, October 7 – The first of this season's three Chalk Talks is scheduled for Saturday, October 7, at 1:30 p.m., in the Ridder Arena Club Room, prior to the second game of the Gophers' series against Ohio State. A member of the Gopher coaching staff will join us to discuss team strategy, review game film from the previous night's contest against the Buckeyes, and have a brief question & answer session. Please note that you must be a registered 2017-2018 member of the Power Play Club to attend this event.
Around the WCHA...
Upcoming games – In addition to the aforementioned games between WCHA squads and the Korean National Team, two other WCHA teams are in action this coming weekend. Wisconsin opens their regular-season schedule with a non-conference home series against Lindenwood on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, Minnesota Duluth plays an exhibition game at home against the Minnesota Whitecaps, also on Saturday afternoon.