Baldwin looking to seize larger role with Gophers

The defenseman was third on the team in blocked shots last season.

by Emily Polglaze

A national championship wasn’t a bad way for Sydney Baldwin to end her freshman year with the Gophers. 
But in her second season, the defenseman hopes to contribute more as Minnesota attempts to defend their place atop women’s college hockey.
“I’d definitely say this summer I’ve worked on becoming more of an offensive threat,” Baldwin said. “I want to activate a little bit more and use my shot to get more chances in the offensive zone.”
Baldwin is no stranger to on-ice success. In her high school career in Minnetonka, Minn., she won three consecutive state Class AA titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013. 
In her senior season, even though she wasn’t able to win a fourth state title, Baldwin was named 2014 Minnesota Ms. Hockey.
Once she arrived at the University, Baldwin became a big fixture for the Gophers defense with the help of former captain Rachel Ramsey, who she was often paired with. 
“She was such a staple of this program,” Baldwin said. “She definitely taught me a lot about the systems and really helped me transition into the role and helped me stand out offensively when I could. I give her credit for that.”
Baldwin played in all 41 games as a rookie and finished seventh on the team in plus/minus at plus-32. 
Baldwin also finished third in blocked shots for the Gophers with 52 but wasn’t among the top 10 scorers for the team. 
That’s something Baldwin hopes to change as this season progresses. 
“Points aren’t exactly how I tally how I did in a game. I try and look at different factors like time on ice and blocked shots,” Baldwin said. “But points definitely contribute to how you do offensively.” 
Baldwin has already gotten some practice, as she participated in the USA Hockey Women’s Under-22 series in August, where she scored a goal to tie the United States’
second game against Canada with only four minutes remaining.
Canada prevailed in that game, but the American team took the series 2-1.
With Ramsey graduated and only one exhibition game in the books for the team, it remains to be seen where Baldwin will settle in the Gophers lineup or who she’ll skate with.
“Hopefully, we can settle on some pairs,” head coach Brad Frost said. “At times we’re going to run four, five and hopefully six on defense. In particular, when we’re running five defense, the pairs will be really mixed up.”
In the team’s exhibition game against the Minnesota Whitecaps last weekend, Baldwin was paired with junior captain Lee Stecklein. 
Though there’s no guarantee they’ll end up consistently paired together this season, Stecklein said she wouldn’t mind teaming up with Baldwin. 
“I love playing with Sydney Baldwin,” Stecklein said. “I know where she’s going to be and what she’s going to do. She’s a smart [defenseman,] but she’s really offensive, which is nice and something our team needs. So I look forward to hopefully playing with her more.”