MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Brad Frost embarks on his 13th season with the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team this weekend, and he’ll see a lot of familiar faces at Ridder Arena.
The season doesn’t officially start until the last weekend in September, when the Gophers host a top-10 program in Colgate. But the Toronto Aeros and Minnesota Whitecaps will be on campus this weekend for a pair of exhibition games. The Whitecaps feature at least four of his former players, and at least 11 Minnesota natives.
The Gophers have faced the Whitecaps three times previously in exhibition games, and there hasn’t been a lack of scoring. All three contests had 5-4 results.
“They’re always very entertaining and exciting. It’s always fun when you can play them too because a majority of them are alumni of our program and of the university, so a lot of fun bantering back and forth,” Frost said.
Frost and the Gophers are coming off a 32-6-1 season that featured the program’s 10th WCHA title, a runner-up finish in the WCHA Final Faceoff and a loss to Wisconsin in the national championship game. Minnesota will have to replace eight seniors who graduated, including Nicole Schammel and Kelly Pannik, who combined for 32 goals and 46 assists last year.
But the Gophers return 18 players from last year’s team, and 70 percent of their scoring. That includes Grace Zumwinkle’s team-high 25 goals and 16 assists, Taylor Heise’s 13 goals and 22 assists and Amy Potomak’s 11 goals and 20 assists.
Safe to say Frost has plenty of talent back.
“On paper it certainly looks pretty favorable,” Frost said.
They’ll also likely be strong in the defensive corps with Emily Brown and Patti Marshall back. One of the team’s top newcomers is freshman Madeline Wethington out of Blake, last year’s Ms. Hockey.
Frost’s resume with the Gophers is nothing short of dominant. He’s led Minnesota to four national championships, six straight NCAA Frozen Four appearances and nine total, seven WCHA regular season crowns and four Final Faceoff titles.
He’s led the Gophers to seven seasons with at least 30 wins, and has a .820 win percentage at Minnesota. But he won’t take any of the credit for the sustained success.
“It has nothing to do with me. We recruit some really, really good players and good people. We have a great staff. They know the expectation, that’s part of the reason why they’ve come here. We don’t talk a lot about winning, we talk a lot more about just focusing on the process,” Frost said. “It’s a tradition that they want to be a part of, and that’s why we get the players that we do.”
Highlights of Minnesota’s schedule start early with its home series against Colgate, a preseason top-10 team.
The Gophers also head to Nashville in late November to take on Boston College and Harvard in the Country Classic. They face Minnesota State Univeristy-Mankato Dec. 7 in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.
Lastly, they’ll be outdoors as part of Hockey Day Minnesota to host Ohio State on Jan. 18. Frost said he has invested in a new parka for the game. It’s the first time his program will be affiliated with the event, an annual celebration of hockey.
“It’s really, really nice to be able to be involved in Hockey Day Minnesota. We haven’t been involved, really ever. To be on TV, to be playing a real good Ohio State team, to be playing here in Minneapolis outside is going to be a pretty cool experience,” Frost said.