Goalie competition shaping up

Nate Gotlieb

In-house competition on the Gopher womenâÄôs hockey team may leave an All-American on the bench. Sophomore Noora Raty played the majority of last season as the GophersâÄô starting goaltender, finishing with a .948 save percentage and a 1.33 goal per game average leading the Gophers to an 18-4-4 record. RatyâÄôs outstanding freshman season earned her WHCA goalie of the year and first team All-America honors. Raty was also the starting goalie for the Finnish national team at the Winter Olympics, missing three weeks of the season in February, as her team won the bronze medal. It was her second-straight Olympics playing for Finland âÄî she was 15 playing at the 2006 games. Even with the impressive resume of Raty, junior Alyssa Grogan still has a chance to start according to head coach Brad Frost. âÄúThereâÄôs definitely going to be competition, as there is at every position on the ice,âÄù Frost said. âÄúTo start the year here anyways, weâÄôll let Noora and Alyssa kind of battle that out. Grogan was 8-3-1 in her 13 games last season and had an active summer. âÄúYou look at Alyssa Grogan and she was the United States under-22 goalie and played three games against Canada and played very well,âÄù Frost said. âÄúYou can tell she just is playing very confidently once again.âÄù The battle for playing time between Raty and Grogan highlights what will be a deep and experienced womenâÄôs hockey squad. The team returns its two top forwards in senior Emily West and junior Sarah Erickson along with first team All-American and WCHA defensive player of the year junior Anne Schleper. The team brings in a loaded recruiting class which includes three members of the Canadian Under-18 national team âÄî Sarah Davis, Baylee Gillanders and Kelly Terry âÄî and 2010 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Bethany Brausen. The Gophers finished last season ranked third in the nation at 26-9-5 and reached the Frozen Four for the second consecutive year, losing to the University Minnesota-Duluth. The team began last season 15-3-2, but went only 11-6-3 in the last 20 games and only 8-8-1 against ranked opponents. While the Gophers dominated at home (19-1-1), the team struggled to a 6-6-4 mark on the road. Frost doesnâÄôt see the teamâÄôs road play as an obstacle to their success this year, though. âÄúObviously we want to do a little better on the road, but if we win the majority of our games at home and be around .500 or a little better on the road, then we should be where we want to be,âÄù Frost said. In an offseason that included college football conference expansion and then the probable formation of a Big Ten menâÄôs hockey league, , Frost put to rest any thoughts of a Big Ten womenâÄôs hockey conference. NCAA guidelines require a minimum of six teams to form a conference in any given sports, and even with the addition of Penn State, the Big Ten only has four division one womenâÄôs hockey programs (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio State being the other three). Frost still believes that adding a team in Penn State will benefit womenâÄôs hockey. âÄúI think anytime we can add another team, especially a program as prestigious as Penn State and a Big Ten institution, hopefully that will pave the way for Michigan and Michigan state to add (womenâÄôs) hockey as well because thatâÄôs a great hockey area in Michigan,âÄù he said. âÄúI think itâÄôs a special time and I know theyâÄôre going to do it right at Penn State, and I think itâÄôs a great, great thing for womenâÄôs hockey.âÄù Seniors Emily West and Terra Rasmussen look forward to their last shot at their first national championship. âÄúOne thing that IâÄôve really focused on is just to leave it all out there, no regrets, and just to give it everything you have because you never know whats going to come tomorrow or in th future,âÄù West said. Added Rasmussen: âÄúThis season is something that I want to put my whole heart and soul into and truly become the national champion that I think we should have been the past couple years,âÄù Rasmussen said, âÄúIt runs more deep in the blood because you want that feeling of being a national champion.âÄù