MINNEAPOLIS — With a new silver coin mined on a trip to China in her possession, Grace Zumwinkle will don a gold hockey jersey for one more season. On Wednesday, it was announced that Zumwinkle would return to the Minnesota Gophers for his COVID eligibility season, after spending last season with Team USA and making a trip to the Winter Olympics.
Zumwinkle, who turns 23 on Saturday, was the 2020-21 Gophers leading scorer with 17 goals and seven assists in 20 games, on a team that just missed out on an NCAA Tournament invite.
“Looking back, it’s threefold,” Zumwinkle told The Rink Live on Wednesday of the factors that contributed to his decision to return. “Failing at the national tournament for the past two years and getting a COVID year has been a factor. I also have a little sister in the team, so it will be cool to play with her. And finally, it’s so special to play college hockey at the University of Minnesota and Ridder Arena.
Zumwinkle’s younger sister, Emily, played in all 39 games for the Gophers as a freshman defenseman last season, registering four goals and five assists. Next season will be the first the Zumwinkle sisters have spent as teammates since a prep hockey season at Breck.
Grace returns to a Gophers team that won the WCHA regular season title last season but fell in the conference playoff title game and tied in the WCHA playoffs. NCAA. Still, the Gophers had National Rookie of the Year in Peyton Hemp and National Player of the Year in Patty Kazmaier Award-winning Taylor Heise, so Zumwinkle will join an already packed roster.
“Any time you can bring back a world-class player like Grace, it’s a huge boost for your team,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said, while taking a break from the national coaching convention in Florida Wednesday afternoon. “Her experiences have continued to grow, being at the Olympics, so we expect her to bring a lot of that wisdom and knowledge to our team.”
Zumwinkle said his year with Team USA was a lesson primarily in preparation and full-time focus on hockey.
“Whether it’s in practice or in the weight room, the little things all contribute to the performance that people see on the ice,” she said. “A lot of hard work and time is invested behind the scenes and ultimately what you put in is what you get out. There is a direct relationship.
Frost said he expects Heise to return as well and that they will announce more super seniors in the coming days. He won’t delay any of the incoming freshmen, having learned the hard way last season, when a series of injuries and at least one departure caused the Gophers to add a player to their roster mid-season.
Amanda Kessel joins Penguins pioneer program
Her brother won a pair of Stanley Cups while wearing the Penguins’ black and gold, so it’s no surprise that Amanda Kessel looked comfortable inside the Pittsburgh rink this week. Kessel, who – like her brother Phil – is a former Gophers star and Olympian, was announced as the first participant in the Penguins executive management program.
“I obviously know Pittsburgh a bit and I know what a great city and sports atmosphere it is, so I’m really excited to start and join the team and bring as much as I can to the program,” said Kessel Wednesday at a press conference held at PPG Paints Arena.
The new program offers candidates – with a focus on women and minority athletes – a year-long opportunity to work alongside executives within the Penguins’ partnership, marketing, communications and broadcast departments , as well as hockey operations. Kessel will go through different departments within the Pens organization, learning all aspects of the sports industry.
As a Gopher, Kessel, 30, was a member of the NCAA title teams in 2012, 2013 and 2016. She represented Team USA at the Olympics three times, winning gold in 2018 and winning silver medals in 2014 and 2022.
“Amanda has the experience, drive and education to be a fantastic front-office leader in professional sports, and we’re honored to welcome her to Pittsburgh,” Penguins CEO David Morehouse said.
Phil Kessel, who skated one season with the Gophers in 2005-06, was a member of Pittsburgh’s 2016 and 2017 NHL championship teams. He currently skates with the Arizona Coyotes.
Thanksgiving in the desert, and no Bulldogs on the non-conference men’s slate
A little more clarity came to the Gophers men’s non-conference schedule this week with slate announcements at Arizona State and Minnesota Duluth. The Gophers will make their first trip to Tempe to face the Sun Devils on Thanksgiving weekend, playing a two-game set at ASU’s new arena Nov. 25-26.
The non-conference games are part of an arrangement made during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, where Arizona State played every Big Ten team four times, all on the road, in exchange for every visiting Big Ten team. the ASU for a non-conference series. in the future. The Sun Devils qualified for the 2019 NCAA Tournament and would have entered the 2020 tournament had it not been canceled due to the pandemic. They went 7-16-3 in the COVID season, including an 0-4 mark against the Gophers and were 17-17-1 last season as an independent.
After playing at a small off-campus rink with less than 1,000 seats for their first seven seasons, ASU is moving to a new 5,000-seat arena on campus in the fall.
The other calendar news came with the reveal of UMD’s full roster, which does not include a series with the Gophers in 2022-23. The in-state rivalry, which began in 1952, has featured at least one game between the Gophers and Bulldogs every season since 1961-62, with the exception of the 2020-21 COVID year, which only featured conference games. UMD was the only team to sweep the Gophers last season, winning 5-3 at Minneapolis on Oct. 22 and 2-1 at Duluth the following night.