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Minnesota Women’s Hockey: Gophers Place Six on All-WCHA Teams

The Gophers have a pair on the First Team

Bjorn Franke—

The 2022-23 All-WCHA postseason teams were announced via the league office on Thursday and the Minnesota Gophers had six different players honored. The Gophers had a pair of senior forwards on the first team, two more forwards and a goalie on the third team, and a freshman defender on the rookie team.

For the third season in a row Gopher senior Taylor Heise was named to the All-WCHA First Team. The reigning WCHA Player of the Year, and Preseason Player of the Year lived up to expectations as she recorded 57 points in 33 games with 25 goals and 32 assists. In just the 28 WCHA conference games, Heise currently ranks first in the WCHA in points, goals, points-per-game (1.73), goals-per-game (.76), shorthanded goals (4), hat tricks (2) and faceoff wins (441). She is the strong favorite to win the WCHA Player of the Year once again when the individual honors are announced later next week.

Joining Heise on the First team is senior forward Grace Zumwinkle. In her return to Ridder Arena from her Olympic Year, Zumwinkle did not miss a beat being named to the First team for the fourth time in five seasons in her career. Grace totaled 52 points this season (a new career high) with 22 goals and 30 assists in 33 games. She ranks third in the WCHA in points and goals and first in game-winning goals (8) and hat tricks (2).

Minnesota did not place any players on the Second team, as that was dominated by Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin did not place a player on the First team for the first time since 2010.

The Gophers accounted for half of the WCHA Third team as senior forward Abigail Boreen, sophomore forward Abbey Murphy and Sophomore goalie Skyler Vetter all were rewarded for their seasons.

Boreen was named to the second team a season ago and arguably could have been a second team selection this time around as well. On the season Boreen tallied 33 points in 31 games with 21 goals and 12 assists. She finished the season fourth in the WCHA in goals and power-play goals (6), third in goals-per-game (.68) and sixth in game-winning goals (4).

Murphy has become one of the leagues most annoying players in her return from her Olympic season. She has exploded offensively accumulated new career highs in points (43), goals (24) and assists (19) in 33 games. She ranks second in the conference in goals, goals-per-game (.73) and game-winning goals (5). Murphy also ranks first in the conference in plus/minus (+36), fifth in points and second in shooting percentage (min. 25 shots) with .205. Only her tendency to be a thorn in the side of her opponents may have cost her a spot on a higher team as well.

Vetter has had a breakout season in her sophomore year in net moving from a platoon early in the year with Makayla Pahl to taking over the #1 job and keeping it the rest of the season. Vetter won three WCHA goaltender of the month and six WCHA goaltender of the week honors this season. She added national goaltender of the month honors in December and is a semifinalist for HCA National Goaltender of the Year. Vetter has posted a 22-5-3 record with a 1.97 GAA and a .920 Sv% with five shutouts. She ranks first in the conference in wins, second in saves (653), third in GAA and fifth in Sv%.

The Gophers also placed one player on the All-Rookie Team. Defender Nelli Lainiinen was one of six rookies honored by the WCHA. Despite dealing with an injury that kept her out a chunk of the middle of the season, the Finnish defender recorded 16 points in 25 games with three goals and 13 assists. She ranks second among WCHA rookie defenders in points-per-game (.64) and assists-per-game (.52).

Minnesota returns to the ice in their WCHA First Round Playoff series against #7 seed St. Thomas at Ridder Arena this weekend. The Gophers played a pair of tight games against the Tommies a week ago including an OT win that was the first time UST had ever taken a point from the Gophers. Minnesota will look to hopefully an easier time this weekend but will need to get the puck past WCHA Second team goalie Saskia Maurer who stoned the Gophers in a 53-save performance in the OT loss to Minnesota on Friday.