This Week in D-I Women’s Hockey: November 20, 2009

Ragging the puck while waiting for the Qwest Tour to hit the Granite State …

Ten Years of Title-hunting

Taking note that Minnesota-Duluth will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in womens’ hockey this weekend – “A Decade of Dominance” – when Minnesota State hits the Iron Range. Talk about an illustrious program. What Shannon Miller has built in Duluth has been innovative and always entertaining. I remember watching Swedish forward Erika Holst warming up before a game, some years back, and thinking, “that slap shot could really hurt somebody”. It was Duluth that really paved the way for Europeans to come Stateside to play womens hockey, and also paved the road westward …

Early Signings

Taking note of the early signing announcements that are trickling out: UMD signed five players on the first sign­ing date of the class of 2010, and with the addition of the five Bulldogs currently centralized with their respective national teams ahead of the Olympics (Kim Mar­tin, Elin Holmlov, Haley Irwin, Jocelyne Larocque and Pernilla Winberg), UMD is looking strong for next year.

The Bulldogs new signees include for­ward Dana Gallop (Grand Rapids, Min­n.), forward Jamie Kenyon (Sparta, Wisc.), forward Jenna McParland (Schreiber, Ont.), forward Brienna Gillanders (Kyle, Sask.), and defenseman Noora Jaakkola (Toijala, Finland). Gallop is a Miss Hockey finalist, and also has U-18 experience – as does Kenyon. Jaakkola looks to be as tough to play against as her name is to spell.

Wayne State coach Jim Fetter inked four players to replace the team’s graduating quartet. Katie Gaskin (Pickering, Ont.) and Cari Coen (Torrance, Calif.) will help bolster the back line, while a pair of Little Caesar’s teammates – forward Rachel Hardwick (Algonac, Mich.) and goalie Lisa Marshall (Powhatan, Va.) – will also head to Motown.

“I feel that these players bring quickness and hockey sense,” said Fetter. “We had addressed speed as an (area) that we needed to improve.”

Perhaps the most intriguing of the incoming classes will assemble next fall at University of Minnesota. Bethany Brausen (Little Canada, Minn.), Sarah Davis (Paradise, N.L.), Baylee Gillanders (Kyle, Sask.), Amanda Kessel (Madison, Wis.), Kelly Terry (Whitby, Ont.) and Elizabeth Turgeon (Cherry Hills Village, Colo) all have signed National Letters of Intent.

The name that jumps out from that bunch, of course, is Kessel’s, who like her brothers Phil and Blake, decided to forgo the chance to play in her own back yard at Wisconsin. Instead, she’ll become a Gopher.

“Minnesota was my gut feeling and I knew it would be the right fit for me,” said Kessel, a forward like older brother Phil. “I feel Minnesota will help me achieve my dreams of winning a collegiate national championship and playing in the Olympics. The facilities are unbelievable along with the coaches and the team. I am thrilled to be a Gopher.”

Kessel has played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s the past three years.

Another Minnesota recruit with hockey genes is Turgeon, the daughter of former NHL pivot Pierre Turgeon, who played 19 seasons in the big league. Elizabeth is another former member of the U-18’s, and has been skating with the Colorado Selects for the past few seasons.

Gophers coach Brad Frost was understandably pleased to have landed Turgeon, a gifted scorer like her dad.

“Liz has deep hockey roots,” Frost said. “She has grown up around the game and is a big, strong forward who can put the puck in the net. She sees the ice well and works extremely hard both on and off the ice. Liz played on the United States U-18 team that won gold in 2008 and has made a huge impact with her Colorado Select team. She is a very likable and mature person who will fit in great with our team both on the ice and in the classroom.”

More on next fall’s freshman invasion coming soon.

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