Maroon and gold in red, white, and blue
By now, we’re used to the “State of Hockey” having a strong presence in the Winter Olympics for both the men’s and women’s U.S. hockey teams. The Beijing Olympics is no different, and the University of Minnesota (both Twin Cities and Duluth) is especially well represented. Team USA is practically Team UMNSA.
On the women’s side, eight former Golden Gophers will be on the U.S. team: Megan Bozek, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Amanda Kessel, Abbey Murphy, Kelly Pannek, Lee Stecklein, and Grace Zumwinkle. Bozek, Brandt, Cameranesi, and Pannek were all part of the gold medal–winning team in 2018, and Kessel and Stecklein each won gold in 2018 and silver in 2014.
They’re joined by former University of Minnesota Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney, one of the standouts in Team USA’s gold medal performance four years ago in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
In addition, women’s head coach Joel Johnson spent 17 years as an assistant on the University of Minnesota coaching staff.
On the men’s side, Team USA will feature three current Gophers—Brock Faber, Matthew Knies, and Ben Meyers—plus former Gopher Aaron Ness and current Bulldog captain Noah Cates.
The men’s team will be playing without National Hockey League players this year, giving a golden opportunity to amateurs, and harkening back to the "Miracle on Ice" squad of 1980.
Bulldogs and Gophers in every color
Once again, a number of current and former University of Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey players will be a part of Olympic teams across the globe, in addition to Rooney playing for Team USA.
Ashton Bell and Jocelyne Larocque will be playing for Canada; Kassy Betinol for China; Katerina Mrazova for the Czech Republic; Alexandra Vafina for Russia; Emma Soderberg, Michelle Lowenhielm, and Linnea Hedin for Sweden; and Lara Stalder for Switzerland.
And two Gopher recruits—Josefin Bouveng and Nelli Laitinen—will be playing for Sweden and Finland, respectively.
Alumni in curling
University of Minnesota alumni are also shining on the global stage in curling. Sisters Tabitha and Tara Peterson are on the U.S. women's team, and both have multiple degrees from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. (Tabitha is a pharmacist and Tara a dentist.) And John Shuster, a standout on the gold medal-winning men's team in the 2018 Olympics, is a University of Minnesota Duluth graduate.