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No. 4 Gophers women’s hockey undefeated as they prepare for their season home opener

After losing 11 graduating players, the Gophers have young talent filling the gaps.
Image by University of Minnesota Athletics
Gopher women’s hockey player Taylor Heise.

University of Minnesota women’s hockey’s home opener took place Tuesday evening against St. Cloud State, which also marked women’s hockey’s 27th season as a Division I sport.

The Gophers ended last season second in the NCAA rankings, losing to Wisconsin in the semi-finals of the Frozen Four tournament. The Gophers lost 11 seniors and graduate students from last season.

At the start of this season, United States College Hockey Online ranked Minnesota third in the NCAA. The Gophers have since dropped to fourth despite their undefeated record thus far.

Going into the home opener, the Gophers are 4-0 overall but have yet to play their first conference game.

In the first four games, redshirt junior Abbey Murphy has made herself heard with seven goals and four assists. Murphy recorded her first collegiate hat trick against St. Thomas on Oct. 13 at the Xcel Energy Center. 

“She’s the motor that makes us go,” said head coach Brad Frost about Murphy. “She’s taking it upon herself to know that she’s got to be the catalyst for a group and she’s done that. It’s been pretty special to watch her habits continue to get better as well. It’s not just the scoring, it’s the other pieces of the puzzle.”

Murphy has been a consistent player since her freshman year. The newly named assistant captain was one of nine players to play in every game last season.

“I mean this whole team [is] full of relationships and friendships,” Murphy said. “So I’m pretty grateful for that … We’re lucky.”

Junior Skylar Vetter and graduate transfer Lucy Morgan have been in goal for two games each, letting in one goal between them. Vetter has started the season with two shutouts in both games played.

Making 44 saves in both games, Vetter has had a hot start to the season. The goaltender has an overall save percentage of .929 in 58 games as a Gopher. She credits the defenders for stepping up this season to fill in the gaps. 

“We lost a handful of D last year, too, and I think that our D are just so ready to learn,” Vetter said. “Frosty’s been saying since our first exhibition game that we’ve gotten so much better and I think our D is a big part of that. They’re just eager to learn and they want to get out there.”

The Gophers have two new additions to the coaching staff: Greg “Boom” May and Mitch Baker. May joined as the associate head coach while Baker joined as an assistant coach. 

“For the first time in my career, I’ve got somebody coaching the forwards and somebody coaching the D, so it’s new for me,” Frost said. “I’ve always coached one or the other … I’m still learning just how to manage and navigate that.”

With the addition of two new coaches, six freshmen and three transfers, the Gophers are young and hungry, looking to make the Frozen Four tournament for the second year in a row.

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