College women's hockey: Brodt's best moments as a Bulldog lie ahead with Wisconsin at Amsoil Arena this weekend
UMD will honor its five seniors after Friday's 7:07 p.m. game against the Badgers, which is also 'Cram-the-Am' night. Tickets are $1 or free with a food shelf donation.
For Minnesota Duluth’s third-year senior captain Sydney Brodt, the moment that once stood the test of time as the top moment of her Bulldog hockey career came late in her freshmen season.
The same was true for the teammates Brodt came to UMD with as freshmen in 2016-17 — Brooke Schugel and second-year co-captain Jalyn Elmes. A 2-1 double overtime victory over Minnesota in the WCHA Final Faceoff semifinals at Ridder Arena was tough to beat.
That changed for all three in the last month, with the Bulldogs blanking the Gophers in Minneapolis on Feb. 1 and the home sweep of Ohio State two weeks ago. Now, they hope to push that double-OT win from 2017 even further down the list of best moments with second-ranked Wisconsin visiting the No. 9 Bulldogs for a 7:07 p.m. game Friday and a 2:07 p.m. rematch on Sunday at Amsoil Arena.
It’s the final regular-season series of 2019-20 for both teams. UMD is tied with the Buckeyes for third in the WCHA while the first-place Badgers are trying to hold off second-place Minnesota — three points back — for the WCHA’s Julianne Bye Cup and a pass straight to the Final Faceoff semifinals.
“This year we've had some huge moments as a team,” Brodt said. “Sweeping Ohio was one of my favorite series and then beating the Gophers at Ridder was probably one of my favorites, especially coming back from the 5-0 loss. And then we propelled ourselves to win that next game. It just really showed the character of our team.”
Brodt’s memories of her four years at UMD go beyond the ice, starting with the first day she stepped on campus. She said the first day was “nerve wracking” and she got lost a lot. That all changed when she got to the rink, however.
“I remember coming out of the rink for the first time. I'd already seen the facilities, but it's different when it’s actually your home for the first time,” Brodt said. “I can definitely remember being super excited to get here and it's definitely exceeded my expectations.”
A year later, Brodt was captain. As a sophomore. That was “surreal,” she said.
Even her coach, Maura Crowell, admitted she didn’t see that coming back when Brodt and company first came to campus in the fall of 2016.
“To say that I knew that Syd was going to be a captain as a sophomore, that would be a lie,” said Crowell, who was only in her third season at UMD in 2017-18. “I didn't know that was going to happen, but not surprised she is leading the team now.”
Elmes later joined Brodt as co-captain in 2018-19 and is again wearing the ‘C’ with Brodt this season.
Brodt said it was tough in 2017-18 wearing the ‘C’ as a sophomore, especially on a team that featured 10 upperclassmen. She said she knows now she had nothing to worry about.
“Those girls told me it then and I think I understand it more now, it doesn't matter how old you are, you can be a leader,” Brodt said. “I know we have leaders on our team now that are younger players this year, too.”
Gabbie Hughes, a sophomore forward, has proven to be one of those leaders with team-highs of 18 goals and 27 assists for 45 points. Junior Ashton Bell would also be in that group, transitioning from forward to defense this year and still having a career-year with 11 goals and 18 assists.
Brodt is also having a career year. Like her best moments as a Bulldog, she’s saved her best numbers for last with 15 goals and 20 assists. She enters this weekend on a career-best five-game point streak, scoring five goals and four assists in that span.
The North Oaks, Minn.-native is now eight points from reaching 100 for her career with 36 goals and 56 assists in 133 games.
“We have a really special group and we have a lot ahead of us going into this weekend,” Brodt said. “I'm hoping to make some great memories and also in the playoffs. Down the road I think we have the capability to have a special end to our season.”
The Bulldogs will honor their five seniors — Brodt, Elmes, Schugel, Maddie Rooney and Ryleigh Houston — after Friday’s game against the Badgers, which is also the program’s annual “Cram-the-Am” night. Tickets are $1 or free with a food shelf donation.
“We’re really shooting for 3,000 people this year,” Crowell said of Friday’s game. “We’re trying to fill that lower section if possible.”
Rooney is a fifth-year senior, having come to UMD in the fall of 2015. She redshirted in 2017-18 to play in the Olympics. Houston transferred to UMD in the fall of 2017 after North Dakota’s program was cut.
Brodt, Elmes and Schugel came in together in 2016-17. Like Brodt, both Elmes and Schugel have vivid memories from their freshmen season.
Elmes said she was scared of the senior class, which that year included Sidney Morin, Katherine McGovern, Lara Stalder, Demi Crossman and now current assistant coach Ashleigh Brykaliuk.
“Their whole class, they were gods to us,” Elmes said this week on the News Tribune’s Bulldog Insider Podcast. Schugel and Brodt echoed those sentiments. “When they would even talk, we were like, ‘Oh my God, they are so cool.’”
Schugel said she recalls her first real interaction with Elmes, which involved awkward small talk on a bench at Super One after grocery shopping.
Nutrition was not their strength that year, either, Schugel said.
“We went through a Hot Pocket phase, a blueberry lemonade phase. They were at the same time. We had a pretty tough freshman year,” said Schugel, who was also on the podcast this week. “We’ve been moving past it. Our freshman year, we just did not know anything about nutrition. Now we’re kind of health nuts. It’s funny, we though Hot Pockets were a good snack.”