UMD’s Rooney slams door on Canada, leads USA to gold
Rather than focus exclusively on the Minnesota Wild’s top prospects, we’re taking a look at the best players from across the State of Hockey every week.
From high school to the pros, check out our recap of all the week’s events in Minnesota hockey, as we check in with college players, prep standouts and State of Hockey alums.
Let’s take a look at this week’s three-star selection, along with other notes, in the latest edition of the State of Hockey Tracker.
Maddie Rooney, G, Minnesota Duluth (WCHA)
Meet Rooney, the native of Andover, Minn., who’s now a household name across the United States. The 20-year-old led Team USA to a thrilling 3-2 shootout win over Canada on Wednesday night, clinching the first Olympic gold medal in U.S. women’s hockey since 1998 -- when Rooney was just seven months old. Rooney stopped 29 shots in the win and sealed the gold with her save in the sixth round of the shootout, slamming the door on Canadian forward (and four-time Olympian) Meghan Agosta. What. A. Night.
.@TeamUSA IS GOLDEN!
The @usahockey women take down rival Canada for their first gold since 1998! #WinterOlympics #BestOfUS https://t.co/wS6s9ulmoA pic.twitter.com/o4gJr8g7sV
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 22, 2018
Hunter Shepard, G, Minnesota Duluth (NCHC)
The 22-year-old sophomore posted back-to-back shutouts to lead UMD to a weekend sweep of league rival Miami. After turning in a relatively pedestrian 16-save performance Friday, Shepard led the way Saturday. He turned aside 34 shots on goal, including 15 in the third period alone. The sweep was huge for the Bulldogs, who moved into a tie with North Dakota for the final home playoff spots in the NCHC. With just six points (wins are worth three) separating third-place UMD and seventh-place Nebraska Omaha, the final two weeks of the regular season should be wild.
Noora Raty, G, Kunlun Red Star (CWHL)
Raty backstopped her native Finland to a bronze medal, her second in four trips to the Olympics. Raty made 22 saves to lead Finland to a 3-2 win over the Olympic Athletes from Russia in the bronze-medal game. She won back-to-back national championships with the Gophers in 2012 and 2013, setting numerous program records throughout her four-year career. Currently in her first season with the Red Star, Raty leads the CWHL with a 1.52 GAA and a .947 save percentage through 16 games.
AROUND THE RINK
-- Former Gophers Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel made Minnesota proud, both scoring monster goals in the shootout against Canada. Marvin, Team USA’s oldest player at 30, snuck one past Shannon Szabados in the first round to put the Americans up 1-0. But with USA trailing 2-1 a few frames later, it was Kessel who came through in the fourth round. Minnesota’s second all-time leading scorer beat Szabados’ on her glove side to tie it and set up Rooney’s eventual golden save.
-- Other Minnesota natives to take home a gold medal: Lee Stecklein (Roseville), Kelly Pannek (Plymouth), Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights), Sidney Morin (Minnetonka), Dani Cameranesi (Plymouth), head coach Robb Stauber (Medina) and equipment manager Brent Proulx (St. Paul).
-- Gophers alum Mira Jalosuo also won bronze with Finland. She played for the Gophers from 2009-13.
-- The Russian men -- sorry, "OAR" -- are the runaway favorites to win gold for the first time since 1992. Kaprizov (a fifth-round pick of the Wild in 2015) ranks third on the team in scoring with four goals and one assist in five games, including a hat trick in their 8-2 win over Slovenia last week. Back in the KHL, he leads second-place CSKA Moscow in scoring with 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) in 46 games.
-- Mat Robson is head coach Don Lucia's choice to man the Gophers' net down the stretch. Originally the backup to junior Eric Schierhorn, the sophomore goaltender has come on strong with the conference tournament looming. Robson has a .945 save percentage and a 1.53 GAA in 11 starts after backstopping the Gophers to a win and a tie in their weekend series against Ohio State. Robson allowed just one even-strength goal on the weekend, making 21 saves Friday to lead the Gophers to a 2-1 win. He was at it again Saturday, tying his single-game career high with 38 saves.
-- Huskies defenseman Will Borgen was one of just four college players to join Team USA for the Olympics. However, he was the only one who didn't see any ice time. It's a frustrating development for the junior, whose Huskies are ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com poll and the all-important PairWise rankings.
-- Wild prospect Jordan Greenway (a junior at Boston University) finished with one goal on 13 shots in five games with Team USA.
-- Dmitry Sokolov just keeps on scoring. The Russian winger is closing the gap in the OHL scoring race, and now trails only linemate Aaron Luchuk for the league lead with 39 goals in 53 games. He has eight goals in his last five games.
-- St. Cloud State's Easton Brodzinski (the younger brother of former Huskies standout Jonny Brodzinski) ranks fourth in the NCHC amongst freshmen with 19 points. He had three points over the weekend, scoring two power play goals and adding an assist against Western Michigan.