Perfect attendance an understatement

Senior forward Jenelle Philipczyk hasn’t missed a game in 10 years.

Austin Cumblad

Senior forward Jenelle Philipczyk hasn’t missed a game as a member of the Minnesota women’s hockey team.

Not a single one.

She never missed a game in six years on the Eagan High School varsity hockey team, either.

For those keeping count, that’s 10 years of hockey without ever sitting out due to an injury, an illness or another commitment.

Philipczyk can’t actually remember the last time she missed a game, or if she even has before.

“I’m sure in peewees I must have missed a game,” she joked.

Obviously, Philipczyk has lost count by now of how many straight games she has appeared in, but the games she has played at Minnesota will always be remembered in the record book.

On March 1, in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament quarterfinals against North Dakota, Philipczyk appeared in her 153rd career game for the Gophers, overtaking Allie Sanchez for the most games played in Minnesota women’s hockey history.

The moment went by without ceremony, and perhaps fittingly so.

In her four years with Minnesota, Philipczyk has rarely found herself in the spotlight. This is likely because she doesn’t show up much on the score sheet, but ask coach Brad Frost and he’ll tell you her role on the team is crucial.

“You can’t win without her,” Frost said. “She’s not getting a lot of credit for what she does via the newspaper and those type things but she gets the credit from her teammates.”

And that credit materialized last season when the team voted her the Unsung Hero.

The award, as the name suggests, is given to the player who is critical to the team’s success but is not often noticed for her contributions.

“Jenelle is a phenomenal player and the unsung hero award was perfect for her,” senior forward Whitney Graft said. “Maybe she doesn’t contribute as many points, but she works so hard and she never gets beat.”

Indeed, Philipczyk prides herself on hard work.

She admits she would love to be the one scoring all the goals, but if not, she just wants to try to give her teammates the best chance to succeed.

“I don’t want to leave the game feeling like I could have got to a puck or could have done more,” Philipczyk said.

It’s hard to see how she could possibly do more. After 154 straight games, Frost said that she still takes the ice every time with the same intensity she had her first day on the team.

“One thing I love about Jenelle is she’s been consistent each and every day she’s come to the rink,” Frost said. “Whether it’s a game or a practice, you know what you’re going to get from her.”

What Minnesota has gotten is a player that simply never takes a day off. She played when the Gophers won the National Championship in 2005; she played when they lost in the National Championship game in 2006; she played when they failed to make the NCAA tournament at all last year.

And now Philipczyk and the rest of the Minnesota squad will attempt to make a run in this year’s NCAA tournament. Having a player who’s been around for the Gophers’ past 154 games may just make all the difference.