ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

'I knew I needed to keep playing:' K-M grad Robinson to play pro hockey in Finland

Katie Robinson is one of the best players to ever play girls hockey for Dodge County. The recent University of Minnesota grad will, this fall, become the first Dodge County alum to play pro hockey.

053020.ROBINSON.ACTION.jpg
Former Dodge County and University of Minnesota standout women's hockey player Katie Robinson has signed to play pro hockey in Finland, with TPS, beginning this fall. (Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota athletics)
We are part of The Trust Project.

Katie Robinson wasn’t about to let her hockey career be ended by a virus.

She’d put in too many hours at the Dodge County Ice Arena while growing up in Kasson and had spent too much time on the Ridder Arena ice over the past four seasons while playing for a national powerhouse program at the University of Minnesota.

The Gophers were ranked No. 5 in the country when the 2019-20 season -- Robinson’s senior season -- came to a sudden stop in mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports across the country and the world.

“I knew right away I was going to keep playing,” Robinson, a 2016 Kasson-Mantorville High School graduate, said. “The Gophers’ program is the best in women’s college hockey. My time there has been incredible. I wouldn’t change it for anything. They prepare you and help you grow as a hockey player and a person.

“That’s the biggest thing I got out of the program, growing as a person and being able to make a commitment to play overseasons, knowing I’ve grown as a person.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Robinson has made that commitment to continue her playing career, signing to play with TPS in Turku, Finland. She’ll become the first Dodge County alum to play professionally.

While the TPS women’s team is relatively new, TPS has a storied history in Finland. Among its most famous alums are brothers Mikko and Saku Koivu. The TPS women play in the Naisten Liiga, the top pro league in the country.

“I knew I wanted to play overseas,” said Robinson, a 2016 Minnesota Miss Hockey finalist who had 150 career points at Dodge County. “I reached out to as many contacts as I had who could reach out to teams overseas, then I hired an agent from 93 Hockey Services and he reached out to a bunch of teams.

“I sent teams clips of my time at Minnesota, then coaches reached out to me if they were interested or needed a player and had room for an import (foreign player). TPS was the best fit for me.”

The 5-feet-10 Robinson said the TPS coaching staff were attracted to her size/speed combination and her versatility.

She played both forward and defense in high school, then played only defense during her first three seasons with the Gophers. Last offseason, Robinson took a look at the Gophers’ roster and went to the coaching staff with an idea.

“I knew we had some really good defensemen coming in and we were losing a lot of good forwards,” she said, “so I talked to the coaches, told them I played some forward in high school and asked if I could move to forward. They agreed; it was cool. I liked playing a different position.”

Robinson, a three-time WCHA All-Academic team honoree, graduated earlier this month with a degree in Supply Chain and Operations Management. But the abrupt end to her college hockey career still is an emotional subject.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Gophers had a 27-6-3 overall record this season and were preparing to host WCHA rival Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I national tournament when the season was halted.

“We had practice that day and we kind of knew something would be changing,” Robinson said. “Our coaches called a meeting before practice and told us to practice that day like nothing was going to happen. We practiced, went back to our apartments, then heard that Ohio State wasn’t allowed to get on the plane to come play us.

“We had a team meal that night -- a last meal together as a team -- went back to our apartments again and then the coaches called us back in.”

That was how Robinson and the five other Gophers’ seniors learned their season and careers were over. It was a devastating blow to the coaches and players, but it also confirmed Robinson’s feelings that she didn’t want to be done playing hockey.

“Especially with the way the season ended, I knew I needed to keep playing,” she said. “It’s that closure thing. I wanted to keep competing for at least another year.

“I’ll take (pro hockey) year by year. It would be awesome to continue to play. I need to look at things realistically for me and know at some point I’ll have to hang the skates up, at least competitively. For now, I’ll take it year by year.”

053020.ROBINSON.MUG.jpg
Katie Robinson

What to read next
Claire DeGeorge doesn't stay still for long. The former NCAA Division I women's hockey national champion at Ohio State is a Mayo Clinic nurse and a professional hockey player who stays sharp on the ice by jumping in at practice occasionally with the Rochester Grizzlies.
The Wausau Cyclones scored with fewer than 5 seconds to go in the third period Saturday to beat the Rochester Grizzlies and split a weekend series.
The Austin Bruins scored three goals in the final 3:07 Saturday night in Mason City, including two goals in the final 50 seconds to earn an improbable victory.
North Iowa scored once in each period to hold off the Austin Bruins in a 3-2 game at Riverside Arena in Austin on Friday.