Sophomore Alex Woken suffered a season-ending knee injury last year, her first year at Minnesota.
Through the first four games in this season, the sophomore has emerged as an offensive contributor on the team.
She scored her first goal of the year against Ohio State this past weekend and has recorded 16 shots on net, which places her third on the team. Head coach Brad Frost is excited to see what’s in store for Woken.
“It is huge to have her back out there, she brings great speed, she puts a lot of pressure on the puck and she has the ability to shoot the puck and score as well,” Frost said. “We really missed her last year and the depth that she could have brought, so it is nice to see her back healthy.”
Woken went to high school at the nationally recognized Shattuck-St. Mary’s, where she played for three years. In those three years, she tallied 188 points, including 103 goals and 85 assists. She also helped the team reach two national championship games, including the 2016 national championship game where Shattuck-St. Mary’s won.
Woken injured her knee just 15 games into her freshman year as a Gopher. In that time, she scored just one goal.
She was a highly touted recruit and excited to get started at Minnesota. When she went down from the knee injury, not only did the team feel it, Woken felt it too.
“Obviously going into your freshman year, you are super excited for something knew and for college, and then that obstacle gets thrown at you,” said Woken. “It was difficult.”
Woken said it was a long journey to get back where she needed to be, even with the help of her coaches, teammates and strength staff. Still, she was able to come back strong. Coach Frost said he thinks she is probably healthier now than she was before.
Now she is at full strength she can focus solely on her game and the team. Given that she only played in 15 games last year, she doesn’t quite have the experience of a regular sophomore. She is still learning things, much like the freshmen that have just begun their careers this year.
“These first few games are just getting back into it and back on the ice with game speed,” Woken said. “Getting used to the game again with my knee and molding with the players.”
The Gophers have begun their season 1-2-1, which, by the standard Frost’s teams have set, is not up to where they think they should be. With WCHA play already started, the Gophers may look to Woken to help jump start this team back to where they know they should be.
Woken has started on both the first and second lines to begin the season, and with the fluctuation of all nine forwards on this team, Woken sees time on the ice with many of her teammates. They are going to be looking to her to create some offense.
“She has one of the best shots on the team and one of the best shots in the NCAA in my opinion,” said Sophie Skarzynski. “Alex is on a totally different level and she will make the right play 10 times out of 10.”
Skarzynski said Woken is one of the strongest girls on the team, which goes well with her speed and her shot. The Gophers will also look to use her impact off the ice. With a younger team, it lets younger players take on leadership, and Woken looks to fall into that roll.
“Something that never goes unnoticed is her hard work ethic and her team-first attitude," Skarzynski said. “She is a great teammate and a great line mate to have.”