|Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) vs
Merrimack College Warriors (1-0-0, 1-0-0 WHEA)
Friday, September 29 at 7:07 p.m.
Sunday, October 1 at 2:07 p.m.
Ridder Arena, Minneapolis, MN
The 21st regular season of Gopher Women's Hockey gets underway with a non-conference series against the Merrimack College Warriors at Ridder Arena. The action begins Friday, September 29, at 7:07 p.m., and resumes Sunday, October 1, at 2:07 p.m.
Nice to meet you!! – Friday's game between the Gophers and Warriors is the first meeting of the two teams.
Analyzing the Warriors – One storyline of this weekend's series is in regards to who isn't playing for Merrimack. After three seasons (incluidng a redshirt year) in North Andover, MA, Minnesota native Jackie Pieper made the deicision to transfer to the Gophers and will face her former team right off the bat.
The Warriors are in only their 3rd year as a varsity program. They finished 8th in Hockey East last year with a 7-17-0 conference mark, though were 4-3-3 in non-conference play to post an 11-20-3 record at the end of the regular season. Their finish meant a trip to top-seeded Boston College in the conference quarterfinals, where they were shut out twice (4-0, 1-0) to end their season.
Being a newer program, Merrimack's roster is very unbalanced class-wise. This year's squad has no seniors, and they only graduated one from last year's team. Sophomore Mikyla Grant-Mentis (#13) led the Warriors in total points (27) and assists (18) as a freshman, while lighting the lamp 9 times herself. Juniors Paige Voight (#6) and Katelyn Rae (#18) also surpassed the 20-point mark in 2016-2017; Voight tallied 15 goals and 11 assists, while Rae had a team-high 18 goals plus 7 assists. A third junior, Jessica Bonfe (#17), also netted 10 goals in her sophomore season.
In goal, Léa-Kristine Demers (#1) enters her sophomore season having played roughly 64% of the team's minutes last year; she posted an 8-15-1 record in 24 appearances, with a .913 save percentage and 2.96 goals-against average. Junior Samantha Ridgewell (#34) made 14 appearances last season, going 3-7-2 with a .907 save percentage and 3.34 GAA.
Recent action for Merrimack – The Warriors opened their schedule this past weekend with an exhibition contest at home, hosting the Whitby Wolves on Friday. Katelyn Rae scored twice in the second period, and Samantha Ridgewell and Léa-Kristine Demers combined for 15 saves in a 3-0 shutout win. However, Merrimack also played a regular-season contest as well, going on the road for an in-conference game at Boston University on Saturday. The Terriers opened the scoring with a first-period power-play goal by Reagan Rust, but the Warriors responding with second-period man-advantage tallies by Rae and Megan Fergusson. Ridgewell made 31 saves, keeping BU off the board over the final 48 minutes for a 2-1 Merrimack win.
Gophers top Korea 4-0 in exhibition – Minnesota's first shot on goal in their exhibition game this past Sunday against the Korean National Team found the back of the net as freshman Grace Zumwinkle lit the lamp. Freshman Emily Brown scored on the power play later in the first period, freshman Taylor Wente extended the lead to 3-0 early in the third period, and sophomore Alex Woken completed a short-handed rush to wrap up a 4-0 victory. Korean goaltender So Jung Shin made 49 saves, while Sidney Peters and Alex Gulstene combined for a 7-save shutout. The teams also held a scheduled shootout, with Minnesota winning 1-0 on Nicole Schammel's goal in the first round and three saves from Gulstene.
PPC & GWH News and Notes...
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.
2017-2018 GWH promotions announced – The schedule of promotions for the 2017-2018 Minnesota Women's Hockey season has been released. The Gophers will celebrate the program's first 20 years during the WCHA opener on Friday, October 6, when the team hosts Ohio State. Other highlights include a Gold Out on October 28 vs. Wisconsin, the Teddy Bear Toss on December 2 against Bemidji State, and Skate with the Gophers on January 13 during the Vermont series. New promotions this year include Fear the Frost Night on December 1 and Social Media Night on January 12.
Seven Gophers recognized for 2016-2017 academic performance – The American Hockey Coaches Association named their list of 2016-2017 All-American Scholars earlier this week. Gophers Sydney Baldwin, Dani Cameranesi, Nicole Schammel, Kate Schipper, Lee Stecklein, Taylor Williamson, and Alex Woken were among 220 Division I & II women's players honored by the organization. Players had to average a 3.6 GPA and participate in 40% of their school's games during the 2016-17 season (with some waivers to the participation requirement granted due to injury or for back-up goaltenders). We congratulate all seven on another great honor!!
Kent joins Gopher Men's Hockey staff, will coach both men's & women's teams – Andy Kent, the volunteer goaltending coach for the Gopher Women's Hockey team the past six seasons, will join the staff of the Gopher Men's Hockey team in the same role and will work with both teams in 2017-2018, per a press release from the U. Kent has worked with GWH record holders Noora Räty and Amanda Leveille during his time with the team. He also served as the goaltending coach for Finland’s Women’s National Team at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Congratulations on the new position, Coach Kent!
International / Olympic Updates
Olympic Games hockey schedule announced – The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced the schedule of games for the men's and women's hockey competitions at the 2018 Olympic Winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The women's game schedule opens Saturday, February 10, with Group B action as Japan faces Sweden and South Korea takes on Switzerland. Group A starts on Sunday, February 11, with the USA taking on Finland at 4:40 p.m. Korea Standard Time / 1:40 a.m. Central Standard Time, and Canada squaring off against Russia at 9:10 p.m. KST / 6:10 a.m. CST. Round-robin preliminary round action continues through February 15, with the playoff round starting on Feb. 17. The semifinals will be held on Monday, Feb. 19, the Bronze Medal Game will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 21, and the Gold Medal Game is on Thursday, Feb. 22 (late Wed., 2/21, in the Central Time Zone).
Additional USA-Canada pre-Olympic games announced – Hockey Canada announced that the Canadian Women's National Team will face Team USA in at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg on Tuesday, December 5, in addition to their game on Sunday, October 22, in Quebec City and three games in the U.S. (Oct. 25 in Boston, Dec. 3 in St. Paul at Xcel Energy Center, and Dec. 15 in San Jose). Another matchup north of the border is still in the works, and they will also meet during the Four Nations Cup in Tampa, FL. Tickets for the Quebec City game are already on sale, and those for the Winnipeg game will go on sale on October 5 through Ticketmaster Canada at www.ticketmaster.ca.
Four Nations Cup Bronze & Gold Medal Game tickets on sale – Speaking of the Four Nations Cup, tickets for the Bronze and Gold Medal Games, being played at AMALIE Arena in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, November 12, are now on sale. The Bronze Medal Game begins at Noon ET, with the Gold Medal Game to follow at 3:30 p.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased through TicketMaster here.
Around the WCHA
Recent action – The Korean National Team went 0-for-4 against WCHA teams in the past week. Kiki Radke and Mak Langei each scored a goal and an assist as Bemidji State beat the Koreans, 5-0, last Wednesday. Brittney Anderson recorded a goal and two assists, and Hallie Theodosopoulos scored the gamewinner as St. Cloud State topped the Koreans, 4-3, on Friday. After playing Minnesota, Team Korea went to Columbus, but were routed 8-0 by Ohio State last night; Maddy Field led the Buckeyes with two goals and an assist. Meanwhile, Wisconsin opened the regular season with a series sweep of Lindenwood, 3-1 and 4-0; Presley Norby notched a goal and an assist in each game as the Badgers outshot the Lions by a combined 89-18. Finally, Minnesota Duluth defeated the Minnesota Whitecaps in exhibition, 4-1, on Saturday; Michelle Löwenhielm and Jessica Healey each had a goal and an assist for the Bulldogs.
Upcoming games – All seven WCHA teams are in non-conference action, starting with a Thursday-Friday series when Wisconsin hosts Mercyhurst. The other five series will feature games on Friday and Saturday, as Ohio State hosts Rensselaer, St. Cloud State hosts Connecticut, Minnesota Duluth hosts Penn State, Bemidji State hosts Syracuse, and Minnesota State goes on the road to face Lindenwood.