Muzerall returns to Minnesota for Ohio State series

Nadine Muzerall was a Gophers assistant coach for five years before taking the head coaching job for the Buckeyes.

Gophers forward Dani Cameranesi battles for possession of the puck at Ridder Arena Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.

Sam Harper, Daily File Photo

Gophers forward Dani Cameranesi battles for possession of the puck at Ridder Arena Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.

Tommy Sletten

Homecomings are always an interesting experience. Being away from home and coming back to your old stomping grounds provides a fresh wave of emotions and nostalgia.

This weekend, Ohio State’s head coach Nadine Muzerall will do just that. Muzerall, a once-familiar face in Ridder Arena as an assistant coach and player, will return to campus for the first time as an opponent.

“I’m sure she’s going to be really excited,” said head coach Brad Frost of his former assistant. “She’s made a huge impact, both as a player and a coach. She’ll have her players ready with a lot of pride and passion, because that’s how she always played and coached, and I’d expect nothing less.”

Muzerall was an assistant coach for the Gophers for five years and finished her time at Minnesota with a record of 182-14-8, which included the team’s unblemished 41-0-0 record in the 2012-13 season and four national championships.

Before coaching, she played forward for Minnesota from 1997-2001 and won two national championships.

She was named an All-American twice in her career and was a two-time Patty Kazmaeier Award finalist.

Muzerall still holds the title of Minnesota’s top goal scorer with 139 goals in her four years..

The Buckeyes have had an up-and-down season in Muzerall’s first year. Her team is 11-11-2, including two home losses against Minnesota.

Muzerall also left a large impression on her former players, with many citing her passion for the game and relateability to players.

“She does a really good job of relating, and she knows what it takes to play college hockey,” said senior forward Kate Schipper.

With Muzerall taking the job at Ohio State, Frost’s coaching tree has expanded yet again.

As one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history, Frost said it’s as an honor that so many of his former assistants have become head coaches elsewhere.

“We want to hire the best people here, first and foremost,” Frost said. “And if they want to stay, we want to keep them here as best as we can. If their dream is to be a head coach somewhere else, we want to be sure that I help them with that opportunity as well.

With Muzerall returning, the game plan won’t change drastically, but her homecoming will provide a unique dynamic.

“I think she knows the team better than we know ourselves sometimes,” Schipper joked. “But, I think we’re still going to play the exact same, and at the end of the game, we’ll be able shake hands and say we miss her.”