Women's hockey: Bulldogs' Rooney named to U.S. National Team for 2018 Olympics
The Minnesota Duluth men's hockey program isn't the only team at Amsoil Arena saying goodbye to its starting goaltender.
The Bulldogs women are too, though this farewell is only temporary.
UMD sophomore goaltender Maddie Rooney was one of 23 players named Friday to the 2017-18 United States Women's National Team, which will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Rooney and Team USA, who are being coached by Duluth native Robb Stauber, will live and train together in Tampa, Fla., beginning in September to prepare for the 2018 Winter Games, meaning Rooney will not be competing for the Bulldogs in 2017-18.
Rooney, the youngest player at 19 on Team USA, would return to UMD in 2018-19.
"It's a huge honor," said Rooney, who will be turning 20 in July. "I'm really grateful to be given this opportunity to practice and compete with the top players in the country, and the ultimately compete with the top players in the world. To be given this opportunity at this age, I'm very grateful."
Rooney is one of three from the WCHA and seven overall who will take a break from college play in 2017-18 to play for Team USA. Rooney was also a part of the American squad that won gold this spring at the 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship in Plymouth, Mich. Rooney appeared in one game in the preliminary round — her national team debut — shutting out Russia with 14 saves.
Rooney started all 37 games for UMD in 2016-17, backstopping the Bulldogs to the WCHA Final Face-Off championship game — a 4-1 loss to Wisconsin — and to an NCAA quarterfinal game at Amsoil Arena — a 1-0 loss to Minnesota. She posted a 1.65 goals against average and .942 save percentage with six shutouts this past season while also being named to the All-WCHA third team. She made 112 saves at the Final Face-Off to become the first WCHA postseason Most Outstanding Player from a losing team.
"She put us on her back a lot throughout the season," Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell said. "She kept us in games, helped us win games."
"She has earned every opportunity she is getting. We're thrilled for her. We always talk about wearing the national team colors, whatever they are, that's the highest honor. We will be rooting for her hard back in Duluth."
Behind Rooney on the UMD depth chart are two goalies who have yet to start an NCAA game.
Freshman Catherine Johnson out of Lakeville, Minn., made just two relief appearances in her first collegiate season, spelling Rooney in a 6-0 win at Ohio State in October and in a shorthanded 8-0 loss to Wisconsin in February. Johnson was perfect in the 27 minutes and 12 seconds she did play, stopping all 13 shots she faced.
Johnson, who was an all-state high school goalie as a senior for St. Paul United in 2015-16, will compete for the starting job with incoming freshman Hanna Markel of Dillon, Colo. Markel played this past season with Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"It's a great opportunity for both of them to elevate their game and be ready to go," Crowell said. "The net is open. I'm hoping that one of them steps up and takes it. It starts now. It starts with summer preparation."
The UMD men lost freshman starting goaltender Hunter Miska this spring after he signed a professional contract with the NHL's Arizona Coyotes.
Bulldogs name 2017-18 captains
The UMD women named their four captains for next season with Sydney Brodt, who will be a sophomore, wearing the 'C.' She'll be the youngest captain in UMD history. Seniors-to-be Catherine Daoust, Jessica Healey and Linnea Hedin will be assistant captains. Captains are voted on by the players.