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College women’s hockey: UMD’s Rooney named WCHA Preseason Player of the Year; team picked fourth

The puck has yet to drop on the 2018-19 women's college hockey season, but Minnesota Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney is already garnering honors. The Bulldogs' redshirt junior and 2018 Olympic gold medalist was named the WCHA Preseason Player of ...

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Minnesota Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney makes a save during the 2016-17 season at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. After taking last season off to backstop Team USA to an Olympic gold medal, Rooney returns to UMD this season as the WCHA Preseason Player of the Year. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com
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The puck has yet to drop on the 2018-19 women’s college hockey season, but Minnesota Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney is already garnering honors.

The Bulldogs’ redshirt junior and 2018 Olympic gold medalist was named the WCHA Preseason Player of the Year on Tuesday, in addition to landing on the preseason all-conference team. Rooney returns to UMD this season after spending all of last year playing for the U.S. Women’s National and Olympic teams.

“The way she’s playing in net, it’s hard to not notice her,” Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell said during the league’s preseason conference call Tuesday. “She loves to play the puck - always has - but now really has embraced it so it feels like we have six players out there, which is a huge benefit to our program.”

Rooney was 30-19-5 in net during her first two seasons at UMD from 2015-2017. She posted a 1.65 goals against average and .942 save percentage as a sophomore backstopping the Bulldogs to a home NCAA tournament quarterfinal game - a 1-0 loss to Minnesota.

Last year with Team USA, Rooney posted a 1.16 GAA and .945 save percentage in four Olympic games. She had a 1.48 GAA and .932 save percentage in six contests prior to the Olympics.

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“Maddie is almost a different person than she was a year a two or go. She has just grown tremendously off the ice,” Crowell said. “She has grown up a lot and I think that maturity and confidence that came from succeeding and winning that gold medal is palpable when she is in the room. The players feed off of that energy.”

The Bulldogs as a team, who are ranked No. 9 in the USCHO preseason poll, were picked to finish fourth in the WCHA preseason coaches poll behind Ohio State, Minnesota and  Wisconsin. UMD was fourth in the league a year ago going 15-16-4 overall and 10-11-3 in the WCHA.

UMD opens the 2018-19 season with an exhibition at 4 p.m. Saturday at Amsoil Arena against the Minnesota Whitecaps - the newest franchise in the National Women’s Hockey League.

WCHA Preseason Coaches Poll

(First place votes)

  1. Wisconsin (4), 33 points
  2. Minnesota (3), 33
  3. Ohio State, 24
  4. Minnesota Duluth, 23
  5. Bemidji State, 16
  6. St. Cloud State, 12
  7. Minnesota State-Mankato, 6

Defenseman commits to UMD
Farmington High School sophomore defenseman Brenna Fuhrman verbally committed to the Bulldogs last week.

Fuhrman enters her third year of varsity play for the Tigers in 2018-19, having posted five goals and 12 assists in 29 games last season as a freshman. As an eighth grader, she totaled two goals and three assists in 30 games for the Tigers during a run to the Class AA state tournament.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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