Wendell to be ready in time for Frozen Four

Brett Angel

It was a sight Minnesota’s women’s hockey team has been waiting more than a month to see.

Krissy Wendell emerged from the Gophers’ locker room in full pads Tuesday afternoon and stepped on to the Ridder Arena ice to practice with the team for the first time since fracturing her collarbone Feb. 8.

The Gophers are optimistic Wendell will be ready to play should they get selected to play in the NCAA Frozen Four beginning March 21. The selection committee will announce the four teams to play in the tournament Sunday night.

“It’s so much better than skating by yourself back and forth,” Wendell said. “I’m just excited to be back around the team.”

Wendell had been skating on her own for about two weeks.

Perhaps inspired by Wendell’s return, Minnesota players laughed and smiled throughout much of their first practice since losing 5-3 to Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA championship game Saturday night.

Minnesota’s second-leading scorer wore a red noncontact jersey, but did participate in all team drills.

“I’ll be out of it in a couple days,” Wendell said. “It’s just precautionary.

“I’m not worried about getting hit. In two weeks (the injury) will be out of my mind and I’ll be ready to play.”

Volleyball recruit commits

Marci Peniata, a senior at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School in Plymouth, Minn., has committed to play volleyball at Minnesota next season, according to Minnesota’s media relations department.

Peniata, who joined future teammate Kelly Bowman as a finalist for StudentSports.com’s national player of the year award, was an all-state pick twice in high school. She led Armstrong to its state-record seventh championship last fall.

The 5-foot-8 Peniata, who received scholarship offers from Northern Illinois and Clemson, played at outside hitter and setter for the Falcons.

However, she could see action at defensive specialist for the Gophers, filling the spot left by graduating senior Lisa Axel.

– Ben Goessling, Staff Reporter

Rickert named All-Big Ten

Minnesota men’s basketball forward Rick Rickert was named to the All-Big Ten First Team on Tuesday by the conference coaches.

The conference media picked Rickert as a second team selection.

Rickert, averaging 15.8 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game, improved both numbers from last season when he was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team by both the coaches and the media.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked,” coach Dan Monson said. “I think he’s one of the best players in the league.”

Monson seemed displeased about Rickert not earning first team honors in the media voting.

“It’s just too bad people don’t realize what he’s done and what he’s meant to this team because their expectations of him were higher than reality,” Monson said.

Rickert was joined on the first team by LaVell Blanchard (Michigan), Kirk Penney (Wisconsin), Brian Cook (Illinois) and Willie Deane (Purdue).

Indiana’s Jeff Newton replaced Rickert on the media’s first team.

Michael Bauer was named honorable mention by both the media and coaches. Maurice Hargrow and Jerry Holman were selected honorable mention by the coaches only.

-Anthony Maggio, Staff Reporter