uzerall would be missed by sports scribes most of all

A grand total of four local media outlets — two newspaper and two television — flocked to Mariucci Arena Thursday afternoon for the self-imposed Minnesota women’s hockey “media day.” These four saps clustered and crammed into a 15-by-20 foot civil defense shelter next to the locker rooms.
For 25 minutes, coach Laura Halldorson and co-captain Kris Scholz fielded generic questions regarding the upcoming season. While Scholz sat in deadly silence, Halldorson dutifully responded to a series of generic questions with a combination of generic and partially insightful comments.
“This is the most talented and deepest team we’ve ever had,” Halldorson said of her nine incoming players. “The question will be whether or not we can take advantage of that.
“I feel we have depth at every position. Every time I’ve said that it’s been true. Next year might be different because we have a lot of seniors.”
Among those seniors is Winny Brodt, last season’s WCHA defensive player of the year, who is M.I.A. this year while playing on the U.S. National Select Team. Nadine Muzerall, also a senior, has a chance of missing four games worth of action if selected for the Canadian team.
“Winny is hard to replace because she is talented and she does a lot of great things,” Halldorson said. “She can handle the puck, she can skate, create offense and play defense. She was someone we could rely on to play a lot of minutes. It would be much tougher to lose her, say, next year or in a season where we don’t have the depth we have.”
Halldorson’s projection for great depth could become an immediate factor, especially if “Muzzy,” the goal-scoring, quote-dropping machine, heads up to play for our northern neighbors.
Forget the hockey team. What are sportswriters going to do without “Muzzy” there to tell them the way it really is?
Given that Mariucci will host the first-ever NCAA championships in March, and the golden rodents have as good a chance of playing as anyone, Halldorson’s only hope is that the product on the ice can help compensate for Muzerall’s bubbly bantering.
“I don’t know about pressure, but it gives us a lot more incentive for the seniors to have our game in front of a full or half-full Mariucci,” Scholz said. “Playing for the national championship for the NCAA is everybody’s dream.”
Who knew?
The Gophers received an at-large bid to the AWCHA championship last season, then went out to Boston and magnificently upended the women’s hockey “powerhouses” on the East Coast — and from Duluth. It was good enough to land them a championship and a spot in Sports Illustrated.
This season’s team is deserving again, especially since the Duluth Budgeteer News reported former Gopher and current Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog Jenny Schmidgall is expecting a mini-Schmidgall in January, taking the bulk of the Bulldog offense with her to Lamaze class.
For the most part, however, Halldorson’s wonderful team may not suffice without spice. Halldorson’s rink rats are a top-five team nationally, host a national championship and have a good chance to win said championship.
But depth equals quantity, not quality. Clearly depth is a concern: Who is capable of replacing Muzzy? Who will be the next to step up to podium and admit during a personal scoring drought: “I don’t know. I’ve had my head up my ass.”

Mark Heller is the associate sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]