The rescheduled 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics are just two weeks away, and while the Gophers will have some representation there, they are expected to have a lot more in les than a year when the 2022 Winter games are held in Beijing, China in February. The first step to that came on Friday when USA Hockey announced the roster of 27 players that will enter a residency in Blaine, MN later this summer of which the 23 player USA Olympic roster will be chosen from. Of the 27 players on the list, six are former Minnesota Gophers, and two still could have eligibility with the U and will miss the 2021-22 season.
Five of the six former Gophers on the camp roster represented the US in the 2018 Olympics where they won gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Defense Lee Stecklein, and forwards Amanda Kessel, Hannah Brandy, Dani Camaranesi, and Kelly Pannek all won gold medals in 2018, and Stecklein and Kessel were both on the 2014 Olympic team that won silver. The sixth former Gopher defense Megan Bozak was one of the final cuts from the 2018 roster but was on the 2014 roster that won silver.
Joining those six on the camp roster are a pair of Gophers who still have remaining eligibility at the U. Senior Grace Zumwinkle finished her senior season with the Gophers last year and was one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award as the best player in women’s college hockey. She will have a choice if she wants to return to the U for her super-senior season in 2022-23 or if her college career is done.
Sophomore Abbey Murphy just completed her freshman year with the Gophers. She was named to the WCHA All-Freshman Team after finishing second on the Gophers with 18 points and 10 assists in 20 games. Murphy will assumedly take a redshirt year for the 2021-22 season and will still have four years of eligibility remaining thanks to the extra COVID year.
If either Zumwinkle or Murphy is cut from the Olympic Camp and will not make the US Olympic Roster it is possible they could return to the Gophers for the second half of the season after the holiday break, but we hope both are preparing for Beijing at that point.
Zumwinkle and Murphy are two of eight players with college eligibility remaining who will be attending the USA Residency and in theory missing the 2021-22 season. Minnesota’s rival in the Wisconsin Badgers will have four players at the camp. The full list is below via Nate Wells.