Reinen working her way back for U, making most of recent opportunities

Brenda Reinen has played half the games the last three weeks – just like old times.

Brenda Reinen might wear jersey No. 1, but for most of her time as a member of Minnesota’s women’s hockey team, the senior goaltender has carried the No. 2 tag on the team’s depth chart.

Reinen split duties with fellow netminder Jody Horak during the pair’s freshman year and posted very similar statistics; she went 12-1-4 with a 1.42 goals against average while Horak was 14-2-2 with a 1.43 goals against average. A season later, Reinen suffered through some injuries and found herself entrenched behind the perennial All-WCHA first-teamer.

Needless to say, the Sun Prairie, Wis., native has welcomed the events of the last three weekends with open arms.

Reinen split nights with Horak in the Bemidji State, Brown and Ohio State series and performed well, allowing a total of two goals and posting a pair of shutouts.

“I feel like I’m getting my legs back under me,” Reinen said. “It was a long break over Christmas and a couple of weeks before that since I’d played. So I’m starting to feel that I’m getting back up toward my potential.”

Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson said the reason for giving Reinen more playing time is simple: Reinen earned it.

“Obviously, the schedule dictates some of our decision-making on who plays,” she said. “But both Jody and Brenda have been playing well enough in practice and in games to deserve playing time.”

The bench is the worst place for an athlete to be, and Reinen said the last few seasons have not been easy.

But at the same time, Reinen said the success Horak has seen has made it hard not to be happy for her and the team.

Halldorson credited this type of attitude for getting Reinen through the tough times.

“Reinen has had an incredibly positive attitude throughout her career, because she and I both know that if she were on another team, she’d probably be playing in a lot more games,” Halldorson said.

In addition to Reinen’s attitude, another thing making the situation easier is that Reinen and Horak, both criminology students, became tight during their freshman seasons and have been able to maintain that relationship through playing-time discrepancies.

Reinen said they have always pushed and rooted for each other, and whoever is on the bench will always offer some feedback.

Horak said the friendship has been extremely important because of the situation.

“If we weren’t good friends, because we’re both such competitive people, I think it would not work out as well,” she said.

And as for the platooning situation, Reinen said it’s something she would welcome as the season went on.

But, at the same time, it’s not her ultimate goal.

“I would definitely take that for sure,” she said. “But as long as we end up with that (national championship) ring on our finger at the end of the season, the playing time doesn’t really matter.”