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Fueled by confidence, Taylor Heise leads top-ranked Gophers

Heise is the NCAA leader in points this season with 55.
Image by Ethan Fine
Senior Forward Taylor Heise skates with the puck in a game against the St. Cloud State Huskies on Saturday, Feb. 12 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.

Taylor Heise has been playing for the Gophers women’s hockey team since the 2018-19 season and has consistently been a reliable scorer for head coach Brad Frost and company. Now in her fourth season playing for Minnesota, she is leading the country in points (55).

“She’s shooting the puck a fair amount and her confidence has continued to grow throughout the year,” Frost said. “She’s always doing individual skill work before and after practice. She’s a rink rat that loves to get better and it’s so fun to see all her hard work pay off.”

In her freshman season, Heise scored 13 goals and totaled 35 points. She also led the team in shots on goal (147).

“I’ve gotten a lot stronger and faster since my freshman year,” Heise said. “In high school I was small and fast. Now I have strength and power. Also, freshman year on the Gophers I was jittery and played mostly off of momentum, now I’m more patient with the puck.”

This season Minnesota is without top offensive talents in Grace Zumwinkle and Abbey Murphy, who are competing in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, yet they are still first in the nation due to a large chip on their shoulder. The Gophers last season missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.

“This season we definitely came in with a different attitude after not making the tournament last year,” Heise said. “We’re not going to give people the chance to take us out of the running for it. We want to make sure that we put up a fight every single game and it’s gonna put us in a solid spot in the tournament instead of maybe.”

Even with Zumwinkle and Murphy gone, different players have stepped up into different roles. On Heise’s line, Abigail Boreen is right behind Heise in scoring with 20 goals on the season. Catie Skaja is also third in points on the Gophers.

“They have fully immersed themselves in those roles that they need to play,” Heise said. “Boreen has grown up as a person and a hockey player more than anyone I’ve seen. As a line if we do our job, the momentum rolls off of us. Me, Skaja and Boreen are best friends and knowing that you can trust your linemates makes it easier to play every single day.”

Linemates Skaja and Boreen both had rave reviews about playing with Heise.

“She’s a great player who makes whoever she is playing with on ice better,” Boreen said.

“She gives us a lot of confidence,” Skaja said. “Every time we do something she makes sure we know that was the right play. She’s positive, she’s there for us and again she’s a huge confidence booster that makes it fun to play with her.”

As a captain of the Gophers, Heise attributes most of her leadership skills to former Gophers Paige Haley and Nicole Schammel who she played high school hockey with at Red Wing High School.

“They were super hard workers in my high school and were dominant figures and I always wanted to be like that,” Heise said. “Having leaders that you can look up to when you are younger helps make your decision to lead later in life easier.”

Off the ice, Heise is looking to complete her degree in kinesiology and start grad school with a possible second degree in marketing.

“I wanted to be a physical therapist when I came into college and realized I over-specified myself in one area,” Heise said. “I took one chemistry class and was like, ‘No thanks.’ I can’t really speak for my future right now but I’m looking for something in the area of kinesiology or sports marketing.”

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