Two hockey players hope to continue their families’ legacies

Abigail Boreen and Taylor Williamson are the daughters of two men’s hockey alumni.

Erik Nelson

For center Abigail Boreen and left winger Taylor Williamson, Gophers hockey runs in the family.

Boreen’s father, Chad, played for Minnesota in 1987-88. Williamson’s father, Dean, played for the Gophers. Her grandfather, Murray, was an All-American for the Gophers in 1959 and coached the U.S. men’s team at the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics. Now, Boreen and Williamson are continuing their families’ legacies.

“Ever since she was in her car seat, we would go to the Gophers games, both men’s and women’s,” Dean Williamson said. “It’s meant a ton to our family. The program’s bigger than everything. For us, it was a true treat when she decided to go to the University of Minnesota which was not a no-brainer decision for her. It’s been a blessing for all of us.”

Boreen said she has a journal from when she was in fourth grade saying that she wanted to play for the Gophers.

“I’ve been coming to games ever since I was a little kid,” Boreen said. “It’s cool to look back at that and have it be my reality now.”

Williamson missed part of last season after being diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a rare neuromuscular disease that causes fatigue and muscle weakness. She played her first game since she was diagnosed with the disorder on Jan. 13 against Vermont and was a key contributor in Minnesota’s 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff victory.

Dean Williamson said the process of hockey has been the best part of watching his daughter play for Minnesota.

“Every year has been an unforgettable memory,” he said. “We’ve all been fortunate to play in big games. We love playing in the league and contending for national championships. For me, it’s been able to watch the journey in itself and no isolated moment. That’s been the biggest memory for me.”

Boreen said her father motivated her to play hockey.

“He wanted me to get involved in hockey and have it be a fun game of mine,” Boreen said. “It soon became a passion of mine and I loved every day going to practices with him and having those late night drives.”

This season, 19 of the 27 players on the Gophers were raised in Minnesota. 21 of the 27 players played high school hockey in Minnesota. Boreen grew up in Somerset, Wisconsin but played for Hill-Murray High School. 

Head coach Brad Frost said having second and third generation players like Boreen and Williamson improves Minnesota’s culture.

“They understand the tradition that we’ve had here,” Frost said. “Many of them were youngsters that came to games watching former Gophers play and dreaming of being on the team one day. That’s our main fanbase. We want these young girls dreaming of playing for the Gophers just like our players did. Hopefully, we can continue to make that happen.”

Taylor Williamson said it’s an honor to wear the ‘M’ sweater. 

“There’s such a culture thats been evolving as the program started,” she said. “To know that I’m a part of that is special. This is where my dad played and my grandpa played. It’s a cool connection that us three can all make together.”