Youngsters expected to shoulder more of a load

Zach Eisendrath

Following Minnesota’s women’s hockey team’s season-opening win over Connecticut on Friday, coach Laura Halldorson was asked if she expected her freshmen to be this good, this soon.

“Yes,” Halldorson answered emphatically.

The Gophers (1-1) have seven freshmen on their roster, one-third of the teams’ composition.

Freshman forward Gigi Marvin scored Minnesota’s first goal of the season midway through the first period against the Huskies.

Fellow freshman Melanie Gagnon assisted on the power-play goal.

Marvin showed breakaway speed all weekend at the Easton Shoot Out, proving why she was last year’s Ms. Hockey award recipient.

The award – presented annually to Minnesota’s best senior girls high school hockey player – is based on performance both on and off the ice.

When she scored her first career goal, sophomore Liz Palkie assisted on the power play as well.

Marvin, a senior center at Warroad High School, was named the winner of the 10th annual Ms. Hockey award by Let’s Play Hockey newspaper Sunday.

The award, selected by a panel of Division I and Division III coaches from Minnesota and Wisconsin, is based on this criteria: academics, community/extracurricular activities, citizenship, coachability and, of course, on-ice performance.

Erika McKenzie, Andrea Nichols and Ashley Albrecht won the award the previous three years.

“I was excited to play for the Gophers,” Marvin said. “There are so many positives to playing here so I was really looking forward to it.”

Asked whether she felt the need to be a goal scorer on this team, Marvin said: “I just want to be able to contribute any way I can. On the goal (against Connecticut), I came out with the puck and saw I had a wide-open lane to the net. So I just let the shot go.”

In that game, though, it was Chartier’s shutout that stole the show.

Making her first career start, freshman Brittony Chartier was brilliant between the posts. Chartier recorded a shutout, saving all 18 shot attempts.

Gagnon and Chartier were named to the All-USCHO Rookie Team last week.

“It was close until late in the game,” Halldorson said. “I’m happy (Chartier) was able to get the shutout.”

The shutout does not figure to be the last for Chartier, a highly recruited talent out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. At 6 feet tall, she covers a lot of net, and if the defense continues to play well in front of her, she doesn’t figure to give up many easy ones.

“I don’t know how many blocked shots we had,” Chartier said. “And 18 shots (allowed against Connecticut), that’s not very many.”

Chartier then was asked if she goes into every game thinking about getting a shutout.

“Really, the important thing is taking it one shot at a time,” she said. “But as the game goes along, (a shutout) is in the back of your mind. But there are a lot of steps that go into it before you get there.