Heise named National Player of the Month, as Gophers prep for showdown against Badgers
Lake City's Taylor Heise had an impressive month of November, recording eight goals and 16 points in six games. The University of Minnesota senior center has been named the National Player of the Month.
MINNEAPOLIS — Taylor Heise has had an impressive college career at the University of Minnesota.
The Lake City native and 2018 Minnesota Miss Hockey winner while playing for Red Wing High School, Heise has — at a minimum — met the expectations of her college coaches over the past three-plus seasons.
While Heise has been a consistent point-producer for the Gophers throughout her time in Minneapolis, she has been on a different kind of tear over the past month.
And Thursday, that effort was rewarded.
Heise was named the Hockey Commissioners Association’s National Player of the Month for November. The 5-foot-10 right-shot forward recorded eight goals and 16 points in six games for Minnesota, including five multi-point games.
The national honor for Heise came just two days after the three-time high school All-State forward was named the WCHA’s Player of the Month.
Minnesota’s top-line center and assistant captain ranks third in the country and first on the team with 30 points through 16 games for the 12-4-0, No. 5-ranked Gophers, who open a showdown series at No. 1-ranked Wisconsin (15-0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday. Saturday’s series finale is set for a 3 p.m. start at LaBahn Arena in Madison, Wis.
Heise’s outstanding November included her second college hat trick, her 50th career goal and a team-best plus-16 plus/minus rating.
Heise leads Minnesota in points, goals, assists, shots, short-handed goals, and plus/minus.
She is the first Gophers player to earn the national honor.
Gophers, Badgers renew rivalry
The Gophers enter the weekend seemingly playing their best hockey of the season.
Minnesota has won 11 of its past 12 games, after a 1-3 start to the season.
It was on an 11-game winning streak before stumbling last Saturday in a 2-1 loss to No. 8 Colgate at the Smashville Showcase in Nashville, Tenn. The Gophers swept Colgate in a two-game series earlier in the season.
“Not the result we wanted,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said following the loss to Colgate. “Penalties all night, no flow. We need to be a little bit better, so (I’m) looking forward to a great series at Wisconsin.”
Wisconsin hasn’t lost all season, with its only blemish coming from a scoreless tie against Bemidji State nearly a month ago. Since that tie, the Badgers have gone on a tear allowing just three goals in as many games while scoring 20.
Minnesota has been getting help from a new and a familiar face this season.
Freshman Peyton Hemp earned her second consecutive WCHA Rookie of the Month honor by producing two goals and five assists in six games.
The Gophers and their trio of starting goaltenders will face a tough task during the two-game series against the Badgers, who rank second in the nation in scoring, averaging five goals per game.
Grad student Lauren Bench has seen the most ice time of the team’s three goalies, and has started one game more than freshman Skylar Vetter and junior Makayla Pahl, a Rochester Mayo High School graduate.
Pahl has been exceptional when she’s had the net. She entered this weekend 5-0-0 this season with a 1.70 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.
On the other side of the ice, Minnesota goal scorers won’t have the easiest matchup either. The Badgers are tied for first in goals allowed per game, allowing under one at 0.88 goals per game. Wisconsin goaltender Kennedy Blair has been the go-to tender for the Badgers with a save percentage of .951.