The Minnesota Golden Gophers found out Friday morning that four of their players had been named to various All-WCHA teams. Freshman forward Grace Zumwinkle and senior defense Sydney Baldwin were both named to the All-WCHA First Team, senior forward Caitlin Reilly was named to the All-WCHA Second Team, and both Zumwinkle and defense Olivia Knowles were named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team.
It was the second honor in as many days for Baldwin who was named a Top Ten Finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award on Thursday. Zumwinkle is the favorite to be named the WCHA Rookie of the Year next week. Zumwinkle is the first freshman since 2009-10 to be the WCHA Scoring Champion. In WCHA play she recorded 27 points in 24 games. For her complete season she leads the Gophers with 34 points, and is currently eighth nationally in freshman scoring with 1.03 points per game.
Reilly is having her best season as a Gopher as a senior. She has recorded 25 points on the season and is tied for third in scoring in just conference games with 22 points. Knowles is the WCHA’s top-scoring freshman defender with 17 points. She also ranks third in the conference with 48 blocked shots on the season.
Twelve Gophers were also named to the All-WCHA Acadmeic Team. To qualify student-athletes must have completed one year of eligibility at their present institution and have a GPA of at least 3.0 for the previous two semesters or three quarters.
The Gophers named to the team include— Baldwin, Reilly, Serena D’Angelo, Tianna Gunderson, Patti Marshall, Sidney Peters, Cara Piazza, Nicole Schammel, Sophie Skarzynski, Sierra Smith, Taylor Williamson, and Alex Woken.
The Gophers also begin the post season this weekend with a WCHA First Round Series against St. Cloud State at Ridder Arena. The Gophers are the #3 seed in the WCHA Tournament and the Huskies are the #6 seed. The winner of the best of three series will advance to the WCHA Frozen Faceoff to be held at Ridder Arena next weekend. It appears this weekend’s series against the Huskies will be streamed for free on BTN2Go.
The Gophers may need to win the tournament to ensure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Gophers are currently ranked #8 in the Pairwise, and only eight teams make the NCAA Women’s Tournament. One of the teams ranked above Minnesota—St. Anslem will most likely not be placed in the tournament—its a long a complicated story so please read this by our Boston College blog BC Interruption on the subject. Removing them moves the Gophers up to the #7 spot in the tournament, and with the 8th spot guaranteed to be going to the champion from the CHA conference, there is absolutely no margin for error. If the Gophers stay in the #7 spot—which looks almost guaranteed, then Minnesota would need to have teams ranked in the Top 6 in the pairwise win all the other conference tournaments. That would mean making sure Wisconsin or Ohio State wins the WCHA, Boston College wins Hockey East, and either Clarkson, Cornell, or Colgate win the ECAC. Any other winner but those six and the Gophers will be watching the NCAA Tournament at home for the first time since 2007.
The Gophers are playing a foe with which they have had historical success. Minnesota has not lost in its last 39 games to the Huskies and are 80-3-3 all time against St. Cloud State. One of those ties came just three weeks ago in St. Cloud however, making the season series 4-0-1 in favor of the Gophers. Minnesota will need to get good goaltending—something they definitely had last weekend in getting swept by #1 Wisconsin, but will also need timely goal scoring, something that was not present last weekend.
Minnesota should have no real problem advancing to next weekend’s Final Faceoff, and then they can worry about not leaving their tournament fate in anyone’s hands but their own.
St. Cloud State Huskies @ #7 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Where: Ridder Arena, Minneapolis Minnesota
When: 7:00 Friday; 4:00 Saturday; 4:00 Sunday (if necessary)
Audio Stream: FREE