Women's Hockey 2023-24 Season -- Part 2: The Regular Season


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Mar 5, 2023
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Redshirt junior forward Abbey Murphy was named to the Preseason All-WCHA Team. Fifth-year senior defender Madeline Wethington and junior goaltender Skylar Vetter also received votes.

The Minnesota Gophers placed #3 in the preseason coaches' poll.

Right forward Abbey Murphy with her upper left corner money shot -- sometimes from a wide angle

Look for Murphy to compete for the WCHA scoring title this season. I think Skylar Vetter is going to have a strong season, if the Gophers defense is solid. I don't know defenders well except to write that Madeline Wethington generated 20 assists and 6 goals as a defender last season. Defender Nelli Laitinen, not making the list, was worthy of acknowledgment.

Also, at this point I thought junior forward Peyton Hemp would appear on this list. She was a top high school recruit (named Minnesota Ms. Hockey) and started strong at Minnesota (winning both WCHA and National Rookie of the Year).

Hemp was 7th on the team for points (28) last season and 5th for goals (16). Maybe this is Hemp's big breakout year. There's opportunity ahead.

Is Peyton Hemp a breakout candidate this season?

Four of five of Minnesota's top-producing forwards graduated this offseason: Taylor Heise, Grace Zumwinkle, Abigail Boreen and Catie Skaja.

Minnesota enters the season ranked 3rd in the WCHA behind Ohio State and Wisconsin. My view is they are the Big Three so it's not that bad to be #3, plus that's ahead of UMD, but... it's an uneasy feeling to see Wisconsin and Ohio State tied for #1 ahead of Minnesota.

2023-24 WCHA Coaches Poll
(Coaches could not vote for their own team. First place votes are in parentheses)

1. Wisconsin (4) 46 points
1. Ohio State (4) 46
3. Minnesota 35
4. Minnesota Duluth 33
5. St. Cloud State 27
6. Minnesota State 17
6. St. Thomas 17
8. Bemidji State 7

Preseason WCHA Player of the Year:
Caroline Harvey, Soph., D, Wisconsin (7 votes)
Others receiving votes: Hannah Bilka, F, Ohio State (1).

Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year
Joy Dunne, F, Ohio State (5 votes)
Others receiving votes: Eve Gascon, G, Minnesota Duluth (2); Kelly Gorbatenko, F, Wisconsin (1)

Preseason All-WCHA
F: Jenn Gardiner, Sr., Ohio State (tie) with Kirsten Simms, So., Wisconsin
F: Abbey Murphy, Jr., Minnesota
F: Casey O’Brien, Sr., Wisconsin
D: Cayla Barnes, Sr., Ohio State
D: Caroline Harvey, Soph, Wisconsin
G – Amanda Thiele, Sr., Ohio State

Others receiving votes (listed alphabetically by position):
– Hannah Bilka, Sr., Ohio State; Jenna Buglioni, Sr., Ohio State; Britta Curl, Sr., Wisconsin; Lacey Eden, Jr., Wisconsin; Jamie Nelson, Sr., Minnesota State; Makenna Webster, Sr. Ohio State.
Defense – Nina Jobst-Smith, Sr. Minnesota Duluth; Madeline Wethington, Sr., Minnesota.
Goaltender: Jojo Chobak, ; St. Cloud State; Skylar Vetter, Jr., Minnesota;.

Minnesota Women's Hockey at the football game last weekend:
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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – For the third year of its partnership with the Big Ten Network, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) is excited to announce that B1G+ streaming packages for the 2023-24 season are now on sale.

Of note, the WCHA will celebrate its 25th season of women's hockey competition in 2023-24.


Fans can watch the games of all eight WCHA campuses through the exclusive streaming deal with B1G+. Annual passes are available for 365 days from the day of purchase, while 2022-23 annual pass members will have their pass automatically renewed with the card on file at their renewal date. There are no steps needed to renew for 2022-23 annual pass members, unless they would like to make changes to their plan or payment within the profile settings.

With the sale of B1G+, fans have the option of three passes, including a variety of annual and monthly packages:
  • WCHA Pass:$49.99 per year
    • Featuring all eight member institutions, the WCHA Pass includes 112 conference games. Each program is slated for a 28-game WCHA schedule, while the WCHA Pass also includes the complete WCHA Postseason, the 2024 Final Faceoff, and nonconference matchups hosted at WCHA member institutions.
  • Hockey Sport Pass:$59.99 per year
    • The Hockey Sport Pass includes access to all B1G+ ice hockey content for one year, including the WCHA and men’s and women’s Big Ten games. The Hockey Sport Pass also features archived replays and an on-demand library for ice hockey.
  • School Pass (available for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State): $79.95 per year or $9.95 per month
    • Available to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio State fans, the School Pass includes access to content for WCHA games at the selected institution, in addition to each of the chosen school’s additional Big Ten events airing on B1G+. Not including all WCHA games, the School Pass only includes the WCHA games of the selected school, with the addition of the school’s other B1G+ aired games.
The first available game for fans on the B1G+ streaming package is Union at St. Cloud State on Saturday, Sept. 23.

The B1G+ network of streams is available to watch on a PA, phone, tablet, or TV through apps on the Apple store and AppleTV, Google Play, Chromecast, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

For a step-by-step guide to purchase a B1G+ streaming package, follow the league guide here:

For more information on the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, follow the league on Twitter and Instagram @WCHA_WHockey, and online at wcha.com.

WCHA Composite Schedule:


Minnesota Gophers Women's Hockey ranked #3 nationally in the USA Hockey/The Rink Live preseason poll.

It makes sense to put reigning national champion Wisconsin at the top, considering that its top three scorers in Casey O'Brien, Britta Curl, and Lacey Eden are all returning, alongside freshman phenom defender, Caroline Harvey, who potted almost a point-per-game in her rookie season.

Starting goaltender Cami Kronish is out of eligibility though, so it seems likely that Jane Gervais (redshirt-Junior) will snag the starting netminder position this upcoming year for the Badgers.

Ohio State is a solid pick at No. 2 if you take a look at all of the talent it is bringing in through the transfer portal. The Buckeyes won the national championship in 2022 and were the runner-ups in 2023, and it doesn't look like they are going anywhere anytime soon.

Minnesota and Colgate are both placed correctly in the top-five in this first poll. Although the Golden Gophers lose players like Taylor Heise and Grace Zumwinkle, among others, it also brings in a very good freshman class that could keep Minnesota as a top team if they adapt to the college game quickly. They also retain starting goaltender Skylar Vetter in net, who had a .926 save percentage in '22-23.

1. Wisconsin, WCHA

2. Ohio State, WCHA

3. Minnesota, WCHA

4. Colgate, ECAC

5. Northeastern, Hockey East

6. Yale, ECAC


9. Quinnipiac, ECAC

9. Clarkson, ECAC

10. Cornell, ECAC

11. Penn State, CHA

12. Vermont, Hockey East

13. St Cloud State, WCHA

14. Providence, Hockey East

15. Princeton, ECAC

The Gophers have taken Ohio State's offseason model to an even more extreme level, recruiting nine new roster additions for another crack at the championship.

Minnesota's duo of All-American forwards Taylor Heise and Grace Zumwinkle headline the major losses suffered in the 2023 offseason, with the Gophers cumulatively missing four of their top five goal scorers along with blocks leader Emily Oden. The Gophers' transfer additions offer a much-needed veteran presence on a roster featuring six freshmen, with defenders Solveig Neunzert and Taylor Stewart having combined for 227 appearances at Princeton and Minnesota Duluth, respectively.

The 27th season of Gopher Women's Hockey begins on Oct. 6 when the Maroon and Gold travel to Rochester, N.Y. for a matchup with RIT.

The Gophers' home opener is scheduled for Oct. 17 against St. Cloud State, broadcast on Big Ten Network.

Minnesota will face off with Wisconsin at Ridder Arena on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9, and will take on Ohio State in Minneapolis on Jan. 12 and Jan. 13.

Tickets are ONLY $5-$7 each for the home opener!


On social media, the Gophers have been introducing their incoming freshmen. Lots of great players from great hockey places. Check them out.

I do want to mention that BOTH the East Metro Girls Hockey Player of the Year (Pioneer Press) Lauren O'hara will be a Gophers freshman...

AND the Girls Hockey Metro Player of the Year (Star Tribune) Ava Lindsay is coming to Minnesota.

Both. That reminds me of the Deion Sanders pizza commercial where he's asked, "Deion, do you want pepperoni or sausage?" Sanders says, "Both."


And some transfers coming in too.

And current players one year older and a little better.

Minnesota is Hockey U!

It won't be long before -- BOOM -- slapshots are slamming into the boards LOUD or SCORE! when they slam them in.

Hey Gophers, do you want to shut down the other team or score lots of points on them?


Are you going for speed or power?


Minnesota is Hockey U!
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New team this year. Gone are stars Taylor Heise, Grace Zumwinkle (now in the PWHL)... and in are new opportunities. Almost 60% of their scoring graduated.


Skylar Vetter's new pads:


As compared to last season:


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Interesting decision by the coach for the visiting Durham West (Ontario). The game was scoreless. Minnesota got a 5-3 power player. The goaltender for Durham West was taken out, and the new goaltender cold had to face the onslaught.

Gophers scored twice. Here Audrey Murphy scores:


And Abbey Murphy now has a hat trick.

Gophers up 4-0 in this exhibition game against the elite Canadian Jr league team (under 18).


Peyton Hemp now with two goals.


This may be a preview of the upcoming season: Murphy followed by Hemp for scoring. Goaltending solid (today was a shutout).

And that's the game. Durham West played really well, BTW.



And a quick overview of women's college hockey, for context.

"There were nearly 88,000 USA Hockey-registered players for 2021-22, compared to about 70,500 the previous year and 84,100 in 2019-20. Participation in USA Hockey-sponsored programs for girls and women has increased more than 33 percent since the 2012-13 season, during which there were about 65,700 registered players.

The growth of girls’ and women’s hockey participation in the U.S. can be attributed to many factors and the efforts of multiple organizations.

First and foremost, the rise of women’s hockey as a prominent Olympic sport over the past 25 years has been instrumental in driving participation. The epic duels between the United States and Canada have become some of the most-anticipated and viewed events of the past several Winter Olympics.

That exposure, along with the efforts of the world’s top players to form viable professional leagues has provided more opportunities for young athletes to see the game played at the highest levels and connect with the sport’s top players at fan-friendly events that are held all over North America.

The interest in Olympic women’s hockey has led to more nationally televised events such as the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Women’s World Championship, the U18 Women’s World Championship and the professional Premier Hockey Federation’s Isobel Cup championship game. More television and media coverage of women’s hockey normalizes participation in the sport and provides young players with role models to look up to while also encouraging long-term goals and aspirations connected to lifetime participation in the sport.

Likewise, there is more access to women’s college hockey via television, social media and the internet than ever before, which exposes young players to a long-term hockey opportunity they may see as more tangible and realistic than playing professionally or for the national team."

Update: TV viewership for the women's hockey World Cup (Olympic teams) earlier this year was high. (Viewership of women's NCAA Tournament basketball was up too).

These are the current rankings of countries for International hockey (Olympics teams):


Minnesota won the gold. It's predictable that Canada (most often) or USA wins the gold. But other teams are good. International women's hockey is getting stronger and the gap is closing. Probably the second best player coming out of the NCAA this season is from Switzerland.

The Minnesota Gophers Women's Hockey team plays in the WCHA hockey conference. The WCHA includes six Minnesota D1 women's teams plus D1 Wisconsin and Ohio State. (And, yes, hockey-state Michigan does not have a D1 team, oddly).

That's the WCHA: Minnesota, UMD, St Cloud, Minnesota State, St Thomas and Bemidji State in Minnesota. Then Wisconsin and Ohio State.


Minnesota also has significant D3 hockey, but that's a different topic.

14,000+ girls play hockey in Minnesota.

A WCHA team has won every NCAA Championship except for the two won by Clarkson out East in the ECAC conference.

The two main East leagues are on-par with the WCHA players and teams. Harvard has played in four NCAA championships but lost them. It's like that. Champion caliber but just almost.

The two main hockey leagues out east are the ECAC and Hockey East.



Growing up playing hockey out East is a bit different than Minnesota. It's real expensive.

The #2 state in USA for girls youth hockey is Massachusetts. Minnesota is #1. Then come Michigan, the other Northeastern states, and scattered across the upper Midwest, Pennsylvania to North Dakota mainly. Colorado. Etc. There's actually hockey in other states too.

Penn State women's hockey oddly is in a different conference than either of the two big Eastern conferences and WCHA. Penn State plays in a league that is more local by history to save costs. Hockey is active but low budget is lots of places.

Previously, I posted pre-season rankings of college women's D1 hockey. And with that, I'm done with this very high level view of college hockey.

And the Minnesota Gophers are really good.

Now PWHL pro hockey has arrived. Previously there was good and successful pro women's hockey but never with all the top stars in the same league and never with, by design, a much bigger pro hockey strategy plan that is well-backed and smartly managed to far, from what I can see. Risky financially because it's big but clearly they are making all the right moves to pull this one off.


CHA (College Hockey America) Conference

In my last post I mentioned Penn State playing in a different Eastern conference where travel would be more local than being in the WCHA. I would think Penn State maybe would be in the same conference as Ohio State, the WCHA, that also has the other Big Ten schools Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Penn State won the CHA regular season and conference tournament championship last season.


The Gophers open the season on the road at RIT October 6. RIT is in the CHA. I'll be curious to see how the Gophers look.

The last game the Gophers played was just exhibition. Both coaches were looking at different scenarios, changed things up, got the team into the flow, and mutually train.

Live regular season action starts soon. Hockey season is almost here.




New England Women's Hockey Alliance

And there's one more D1 Women's Hockey conference. It's called New England Women's Hockey Alliance.


LIU (Long Island University) won the regular season and conference tournament championships last season for that conference. These teams have a smaller budget and less travel distance.

So that's one look at the world of women's college hockey without I hope being too confusing.
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What to expect from this season. Some thoughts.

Realistically, this may be a two-year process here until the next peak, but still a contender.

Nearly 60% of the scoring production graduated. Other players are in the pipeline. Players like Abbey Murphy and Peyton Hemp are not seniors, so they will be back, though others like Madeline Wethington will graduate. Probably contend this season but peak higher again next.

Defense should be a bit better and more experienced. Team added a couple defenders via the transfer portal.

Wisconsin's snipers will be back and one year older. Real danger there.

Ohio State lost top defenders but brought in two good defenders.

UMD is always good, though they don't have the firepower of a few years ago so again probably more of a defensive team again this season. Their ace goaltender graduated, and a promising young goalie comes in, not sure what to expect.

Teams do surprise all the time. New players will be stepping up so stay tuned.
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Ohio State lost to a good Colgate team, but Ohio State was thought to be better.


A good website is here:

St Thomas set a record in a win when 6 St Thomas players scored seven goals.

Wisconsin trounced a weaker Lindenwood team, no surprise there.

And they're off.


Wisconsin freshman forward Cassie Hall had four goals today. I thought Wisconsin hit the cap for firepower, and in comes she.


NCAA scoreboard is here:

#11 Penn State lost to UConn. In January, Minnesota plays UConn.

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When are they gonna have a freshman tandem like the Men's team a year ago? The younger players are gonna have to step up this season.

Abbey Murphy will be at the top or almost the top for most conference/NCAA goals in a season. That's one thing we know this year, Murphy is a gifted forward. She has that ability to place the puck and pretty good skating zoom too.


And then others get a chance to fill the player production that graduated. It will be interesting to see what that looks like. And it's Minnesota so they're always going to be in the contender group with a good shot.

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#2 Ohio State split games with #4 Colgate.

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St Thomas will be improved this season, with some good freshmen players coming in. They swept their series with unranked Franklin Pierce.

#13 St Cloud state swept Union.
Ohio State is already facing ranked opponents and all we've got is Durham West Jrs. What am I missing here?

Ohio State is already facing ranked opponents and all we've got is Durham West Jrs. What am I missing here?

Ohio State was the only tough ranked game, the showdown of the season opener week. Everyone else starts easy.

Ohio State-Colgate was the premier matchup this week. They do that to create interest but everyone else gets an easier game to open the season.

#1 Wisconsin destroyed a weak team. Minnesota plays a decent but not strong team next weekend for the opener.

Gophers didn't play this week. They open next Friday.

Wisconsin took 3 of the 4 player of the week awards, and Ohio State took the other spot:

The huge news is the 16 points Wisconsin scored in a statement game. Three players earned hat tricks (3). A new freshman scored four goals.

Minnesota hasn't played yet. They will have their chance this weekend.


The following #Gophers Women's Hockey will be broadcast on FOX 9+:

Friday, Oct. 13: Minnesota at St. Thomas - 4:00 p.m. CT

Saturday, Nov. 4: Minnesota at Minnesota State - 4:00 p.m. CT

Saturday, Jan. 20: Minnesota at Bemidji State - 3:00 p.m. CT

Saturday, Jan. 27: Minnesota at Minnesota State - 2:00 p.m. CT

Friday, March 8: WCHA Final Faceoff Semifinal Game 1 - 1:00 p.m. CT / WCHA Final Faceoff Semifinal Game 2 - 4:30 p.m. CT

Saturday, March 9: WCHA Final Faceoff Championship Game - 2:00 p.m. CT

: z.umn.edu/8zca



Wisconsin tonight beat Boston College. Lacy Eden continues to be hot for wisconsin. She scored two goals tonight. Last week she was the WCHA forward of the week.

Gophers open their season tomorrow against RIT.


I think Minnesota's going to score on Wisconsin when they play. Minnesota will need to score to beat this gun slinging Wisconsin team.

Last year's Wisconsin goaltender Cami Kronish graduated. She was the Frozen Four championship series Most Outstanding Performer, hot when it mattered most. She was good but I wouldn't say among the very best. Jane Gervais also started some games. This season Jane Gervais is in nets, not entirely sure what to expect.

Boston College scores on Wisconsin

I think the Gophers can score on Wisconsin.

Minnesota has a strong goaltender in Skylar Vetter.

Skylar Vetter

Rrrrrr-ready to rumble! Gophers opening their season right now.

And here are the lines, some strong lines comin' at ya!



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