Erickson shooting for title

The sophomore forward has hockey roots and is leading the WCHA in goals.

John Hageman

The hallway at the rink level of Ridder Arena is lined with maroon, gold and pictures of past Gophers hockey glory. Just outside the womenâÄôs team locker room hang two pictures of the 2004 and 2005 national championship teams hoisting the trophy, serving as a constant reminder for sophomore Sarah EricksonâÄôs goal at Minnesota âÄî to be a national champion. She certainly is doing her part so far this year in reaching that goal, scoring 10 goals in as many games, and she has already matched her goal production from last year. âÄúI think the biggest thing is sheâÄôs just being relied upon more,âÄù Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said. âÄúLast year she fulfilled her role for us that is very different from her role this year.âÄù The 19-year-old forward already has a lot under her belt, including winning a gold medal for the U.S. WomenâÄôs National Under-18 Team in 2008 and the 2008 Minnesota Ms. Hockey award for her play at Bemidji High School. But Erickson is keeping her mind focused on her time here and hopefully an eventual National Championship. âÄúWeâÄôve said in the locker room, âÄòIf you dwell on what you did in the past, then youâÄôre probably not ready for the future,âÄô âÄù Erickson said. âÄúRight now IâÄôm focused âĦ on doing what I have to help out the team.âÄù Erickson doesnâÄôt seem to mind the added pressure and said she thrives in high-pressure situations, but the years of experience may have something to do with her extra confidence this year. Born about 10 minutes from the Canadian border in Roseau, Minn., Erickson has had hockey on her mind from the beginning. âÄúI started skating when I started to walk,âÄù Erickson said. âÄúItâÄôs been a long, long time and a long journey, but itâÄôs been really fun.âÄù The environment of her hometown may have added to this hockey upbringing, and according to Erickson, âÄúIf you donâÄôt play hockey [in Roseau], itâÄôs, âÄòWhat are you doing?âÄô âÄù In high school, Erickson began to excel at the sport, playing on the varsity team at Roseau High School in her eighth-grade year and becoming team captain her freshman year. Erickson then moved to Bemidji and continued her hockey career, earning first-team All-State honors in her junior and senior seasons and winning the section 8AA championship in 2007, all while still earning a 3.7 grade point average. Erickson was the captain of the first U.S. Under-18 Team, which won a gold medal in 2008. âÄúI can remember [winning the gold medal] like it was yesterday, and it was quite a while ago,âÄù Erickson said. âÄúIt just gives you chills.âÄù Before coming to the University of Minnesota, Erickson exchanged phone calls with fellow Ms. Hockey finalists and now teammates Anne Schleper and Kelly Seeler. Erickson also called fellow gold medalist and now teammate Alyssa Grogan . Erickson and the other three Gophers would end their conversations with the motto âÄúnatty champsâÄù in reference to their goal with the Gophers. Erickson added that the transition from high school to college was made easier by the tight-knit group she entered with. Within this well-bonded team, Erickson has gained a reputation as the most outgoing, which is an attitude she tries to bring to the ice. âÄúThe girls were talking yesterday about how if I wasnâÄôt so energetic and so loud and so crazy all the time, they probably wouldnâÄôt like me as much,âÄù Erickson said jokingly. Erickson has not decided what she plans to do in her professional life, but she does plan on continuing her hockey career. âÄúMy goal has always been to play in the Olympics,âÄù Erickson said. âÄúNo matter what year it is âĦ IâÄôll go until I make it.âÄù And while the sophomore is always looking ahead, she still has the regular problems every college student deals with, such as 8 a.m. class and staying on top of her grades. âÄúItâÄôs grueling,âÄù Erickson said. âÄúYou get done with practice after your three classes a day, and you do more studying, then you go to bed. Eat in between.âÄù This rough schedule hasnâÄôt seemed to slow Erickson down, but she still finds a way to keep her success with a team-first attitude. âÄúI think every player on this team is really on their high point right now,âÄù Erickson said. âÄúEach one of us has to have confidence and the team will have confidence.âÄù