'Talented, but young' UMD women's hockey team prepares for season
Minnesota Duluth women's hockey coach Shannon Miller often used "talented, but young" to describe her 2007-08 team at its first practice Monday. The Bulldogs have one senior and lost 46 percent of their goal scoring with the departures of Noemie ...
Minnesota Duluth women's hockey coach Shannon Miller often used "talented, but young" to describe her 2007-08 team at its first practice Monday.
The Bulldogs have one senior and lost 46 percent of their goal scoring with the departures of Noemie Marin, Jessica Koizumi and Michaela Lanzl.
"There is no question that we'll miss them," Miller said.
Yet, UMD returns four standout sophomores in forwards Saara Tuominen, Emmanuelle Blais, Elin Homlov and goalie Kim Martin from a team that went 24-11-4 and advanced to the NCAA Division I national championship game.
Miller has compiled 200 career wins and three national championships at UMD, but the 11 losses last year were second-most next to 12 defeats in 2003-04.
"We had bad stretches with five scholarship players out with injuries at once," said Miller, in her ninth season as coach. "But we showed that it doesn't matter and the rest of us can do it."
Miller expects freshmen forwards Haley Irwin, Laura Fridfinnson, Iya Gavrilova and defender Joss Larocque to contribute immediately.
"Again, we're talented, but young," Miller said. "They are experienced at the international level, but not with us."
Julie Chu, who as a senior at Harvard won the 2007 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top player in Division I, joined Miller's coaching staff this season.
"[Chu] is a natural leader and when you're a natural leader, you're a natural coach," Miller said. "She has a positive perspective and that, coupled with leadership ability, you have a good role model and coach."
Wisconsin ended UMD's season with a 4-1 win in the championship game, and Miller said she expects the Badgers, Bulldogs and Mercyhurst, in Erie, Penn., to be the top three teams in the nation this season.
UMD will play an exhibition game against the Minnesota Whitecaps at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Blaine, Minn., before opening the regular season at St. Cloud State on Oct. 5-6.