One of the greatest players in the history of the Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s hockey program is getting one of the highest honors in the hockey world. Former Gopher and US Olympian Natalie Darwitz is one of five people who will be inducted to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018 it was announced on Thursday. Darwitz will be only the fifth woman in the USHHOF, and the first former Gopher women’s player.
The Eagan, Minnesota native started her international career early, joining the US National team at the age of 15 out of Eagan High School. Darwitz would join the Gophers in 2002 and would play three seasons for Minnesota. She was a three-time all American and two-time NCAA Champion with the Gophers.
Darwitz played in 99 career games for Minnesota between 2002 and 2005. She ended her Minnesota career with a then program record 246 career points. She currently is third all time in scoring in program history as her record was eclipsed by both Hannah Brandt and Amanda Kessel during the 2015-16 season. Darwitz remains Minnesota’s career leader with 2.48 points per game. She was the 2003 WCHA Rookie of the Year after a freshman campaign where she scored 68 points and 33 goals. She would be named an All-American in all three seasons with the Gophers and lead Minnesota to a fourth place finish at the Frozen Four in 2003 and back to back NCAA Championships in 2004 and 2005. She would be named the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four in 2005 after scoring a record nine points in the NCAA Tournament including the championship winning goal with 1:08 left in the game to defeat Harvard.
Darwitz was a three-time finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, but could never get over the hump to win it. She still holds single-season program records with 114 points and 72 assists set during the 2004-05 season.
Darwitz also starred in International play. She was the captain of the US National Team from 2007-2010 including the 2010 Olympics. She played in three Olympic games winning silver in 2002 and 2010 and bronze in 2006. She won three IIHF Women’s World Championships with Team USA in 2005, 2008 and 2009, and won silver with Team USA in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2007. She led the World Championship in goals in 2004 and 2008, points in 2008 and assists in 2009. In 2008, Darwitz received USA Hockey’s Bob Johnson Award, which recognizes excellence in international ice hockey competition.
Darwitz is currently the coach of the Hamline University Pipers women’s hockey team. In three seasons she has turned the Pipers around and in 2017-18 had the best season in school history with a 22-5-3 overall record and finished third in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Darwitz was named both the MIAC and USCHO.com D-III Women’s National Coach of the Year.
Darwitz will be joined in the USHHOF Class of 2018 by Former Michigan Wolverines head coach and player Red Berenson, former Boston Bruins forward Hago Harrington, Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile, and former NHL referee Paul Stewart. The induction ceremony will take place December 12th in Nashville, and the players will be permanently enshrined at the US Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minnesota.