The WCHA announced their initial list of individual awards on Tuesday and a pair of Minnesota Gophers were honored for their performance this season. Senior Taylor Heise was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Year and freshman Peyton Hemp was named the WCHA Rookie of the Year. Heise is a strong candidate to be named the WCHA Player of the Year when that award is announced on Thursday.
Heise became the first Gopher to ever win the WCHA offensive Player of the Year Award since it was began to be given out in 2017-18. She definitely deserved it after leading the nation in scoring with 64 points and tying for the nation lead in goals with 28. Heise became the first Gopher to lead the WCHA in scoring in three seasons since Nicole Schammel did in 2018-19. In WCHA play Heise recorded 46 points and 18 goals in 28 conference games. The Lake City, Minnesota native was named to the All-WCHA First Team last week and her three WCHA Forward of the Month honors (Nov., Jan., Feb.) are most by any Gopher since the award’s introduction in 2016-17.
Hemp became the 10th Gopher in history to win the WCHA Rookie of the Year Award following in the footsteps of such Gopher greats as current teammate Madeline Wethington, Sarah Potomak, Dani Cameranesi , Hannah Brandt, Amanda Kessel, Gigi Marvin and current Gopher assistant coach Natalie Darwitz. The Andover native led all WCHA freshmen in points with 26 and goals with 10. Her 0.94 points per game is the best of any Gopher freshman since Grace Zumwinkle in 2017-18. Last week Hemp was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team and became the first Minnesota rookie to win three WCHA Rookie of the Month awards (Oct., Nov., Feb.). It was a season journey for Hemp who was named the Preseason Rookie of the Year honoree back in September before being awarded the season end crown on Tuesday.
Other honorees on Tuesday included Ohio State defender Sophie jacques as the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, and St. Cloud State goalie Emma Polusny as the WCHA Goalie of the Year. Student-athlete of the year, coach of the year, and the overall player of the year awards will be handed out on Wednesday and Thursday before the WCHA Frozen Faceoff takes place this weekend.
Minnesota will host the Frozen faceoff and will play #4 seed Minnesota-Duluth at 1 PM Saturday. #2 Ohio State and #3 Wisconsin will meet in the second semifinal at 4PM with the two winners advancing to the Championship Game at 1 PM Sunday. All three games will be televised locally in the Twin Cities on Fox9+ and will stream on BTN+.