Curtin helps fuel women’s hockey’s offensive outburst

by Monica Wright

DULUTH — Minnesota-Duluth is a women’s hockey team riddled with Olympians from three different countries.
The Bulldogs are also the only team in the WCHA to beat the Gophers.
So you can see how a freshman like Minnesota’s Ronda Curtin would be a little intimidated.
But she wasn’t. In fact, she was inspired.
“Against girls like that you have to play your best,” Curtin explained. “I was excited to play against that kind of competition.”
Curtin is clearly not your average freshman. She dreams of playing in the Olympics herself — and with good reason. She racked up 249 goals and 216 assists over her high school career, earning her the title of Ms. Hockey her senior year and state titles in 1996 and 1999 for Roseville.
As the Gophers come off a 12-game winning streak this weekend after tying Duluth on Saturday, it’s clear Curtin is doing her part to propel the team toward a national title. She contributed three assists in the Duluth series, giving her 10 goals and 15 assists since the streak began.
“I’ve been working on being more focused defensively and offensively,” Curtin said. “I want to be a more complete player than just being an offensive threat.”
Friday night’s game began with a Bulldogs goal in the first two minutes of the game. Minnesota tied it up when Curtin connected with junior Betsey Kukowski for a goal.
But that didn’t satisfy the Gophers. They came back in the second period to score two more goals, giving them a 4-1 lead.
“We knew that we had to get a goal to get momentum and have them on their heels,” Curtin said. “We weren’t looking for as many goals as we got, but it’s awesome that we got them.”
With key players like Winny Brodt, Megan Milbert and Courtney Kennedy succumbing to injuries this season, Curtin’s presence on the ice has helped the team fill the holes in some tough games.
But she doesn’t feel it’s a burden she bears.
“I wouldn’t say I feel pressure to step up; it’s what I want to do even if they were healthy,” Curtin said. “I always want to fulfill my role on the team.”
Saturday night’s game saw Curtin and teammate Nadine Muzerall pummeling Duluth goalie Tuula Puputti with shots until they combined for the game-tying shot in the third period. Though the game ended in a tie, Curtin believes Minnesota has the edge as a team.
“We play as a team, not as individuals,” Curtin said. “Duluth has some awesome players, but our team works well together. Their top four players are very strong, but that’s not necessarily something we don’t have — we have depth.”

Monica Wright covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected].