Gophers go for the gold

Minnesota Gophers are ready to take the gold in the Sochi Olympics.

by Betsy Helfand


Buffalo Grove, Ill.

Bozek, 22, played for the Gophers from 2009-13. She was a two-time national champion during her time at Minnesota and served as a co-captain in her senior season.

Bozek set school records for points by a defenseman (146), and goals defenseman (47).

She has played in two International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships and two Four Nations Cups. This is her first Olympic appearance.



Madison, Wis.

Kessel, 22, is currently redshirting her senior season to compete in the Olympics.

As a junior last season, she led the nation with 101 points and won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which is given annually to the top collegiate women’s hockey player.

Kessel is currently fourth on Minnesota’s all-time list with 231 points, a record that she’s on pace to break during her senior season.

Her older brother, Phil, also went to the University of Minnesota and will be in the Olympics.

Though this is her first trip to the Olympics, she will be depended on as a top forward for Team USA.



Roseville, Minn.

Stecklein, 19, is redshirting this season.

Stecklein was part of a Minnesota state championship team in 2010 at Roseville Area High School. As a freshman last season, Stecklein recorded 12 points and posted a plus-35 on the ice.

She participated in the National Development Camp when she was 14 and has played for numerous USA Hockey teams since.

This is her first trip to the Olympics.



Lieksa, Finland

Jalosuo, 25, who played for Minnesota from 2009-13, will play for the Finnish national team in Sochi.

As a senior last year, Jalosuo was a force on the blue line. She more than doubled her season high in points with a 30-point season.

Jalosuo has represented Finland in other tournaments, but this will be her first Olympics.



Warroad, Minn.

Marvin, 26, competed for the Gophers from 2005-09. As a forward for Minnesota, she posted 195 career points, good for seventh in the school’s history.

After college, Marvin played for the Minnesota Whitecaps in the Western Women’s Hockey League and then for the Boston Blades in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

Marvin competed in the 2010 Olympics and won a silver medal. She posted three assists as a forward on that team.

This time, she will be competing as a defenseman.



St. Cloud, Minn.

Schleper, 24, played for Minnesota from 2008-12. She was a durable defenseman, setting a school record with 159 games played.

Schleper was also an offensive force, and she currently ranks third on Minnesota’s all-time list for points by a defenseman with 114.

In 2012-13, she played for the Boston Blades and won the Clarkson Cup.

This is her first time participating in the Olympics.



Espoo, Finland

Along with Jalosuo, the former Gophers goaltender, Räty, 24, will compete for Finland.

Räty has been a member of the Finnish National Team since she was 15 and also competed in the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.

Räty was in net for Minnesota’s back-to-back national championships and holds school records in goaltender wins, saves, saves per game, shutouts and save percentage.



Madison, Wis.

Kessel, 26, is currently a forward with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He played at the University of Minnesota in the 2005-06 season and was the WCHA Rookie of the Year before turning pro.

He was drafted fifth overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins and was traded to Toronto in 2009.

Kessel is currently near the league lead in both points and goals.

He participated in the 2010 Olympics and won a silver medal.



Minneapolis, Minn.

Martin, 32,  is currently a defenseman with the NHL’s Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Minneapolis native played for the Gophers from 2000-03.

He was drafted in 2000 by the New Jersey Devils and has spent his whole career with the Devils and Penguins.

He has not appeared in an Olympics for Team USA.



Baden, Austria

Vanek, 30, is currently a forward with the New York Islanders. He will represent Austria in the Olympics.

Vanek played for the Gophers from 2002-04 and was drafted fifth overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

He was traded to the Islanders from the Sabres in October 2013.

This will be his first Olympics and the first Olympics for Austria’s men’s hockey team since 2002.



Robbinsdale, Minn.

Wheeler, 27, competed at the University of Minnesota from 2005-08.

He helped the Gophers win the WCHA playoff championship as a sophomore and led the team in points as a junior.

Wheeler was drafted fifth overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and is currently with the Winnipeg Jets.

This is his first Olympic experience.