Following a standout freshman season in Mankato, forward Nicole Schammel will head further north to continue her college hockey career.
The Red Wing native is one of six new additions to the Gophers women’s hockey program, adding depth to the defending national champions’ roster.
“She’s going to fit in real well as somebody that has a good hockey IQ, that plays well with others and that is a good offensive threat,” head coach Brad Frost said.
As a young girl, Schammel had two older brothers who played hockey, and she ended up falling in love with the game herself.
In high school, the forward was the Minnesota State High School League’s leading scorer during her junior and senior seasons for Red Wing. She was also one of
five finalists for the Minnesota Ms. Hockey award her senior year, given to the top high school player in the state.
The award’s winner that year, defenseman Sydney Baldwin, and two other finalists, forwards Kelly Pannek and Nina Rodgers, are already members of the Gophers women’s hockey team.
Schammel started at Mankato and excelled in her college debut. During her freshman season, she scored 11 goals and tallied 11 assists, leading the Mavericks in points with 22 in 36 games played.
Though Schammel said she’s worked on goal-scoring extensively over the years, she said the most important aspect of her game she tapped into during her rookie season was her defense.
“In college, you learn that you have to play both ends really hard,” Schammel said. “And if you’re playing defense hard, you’re paying a lot of attention on the offensive end.”
Still, in the end Schammel decided to leave the Mavericks after just one season.
Factors away from the ice ended up playing a role in her decision. The University of Minnesota is closer to her home than Mankato by about an hour, and the proximity was important to her.
“My parents and family came a lot when I was at Mankato, but it’ll just be an easier trip for them. And my grandparents will have an easier drive to come up and watch me play, so I think that part is really cool,” Schammel said.
Schammel will join a Minnesota team looking to defend its sixth national title next season, but she won’t be able to see any game action this season due to Western Collegiate Hockey Association transfer rules.
Instead, Schammel will serve as depth for the Gophers future.
“The practices are going to be her games,” Frost said. “She’s a mature kid that wants what’s best for the team.”
Schammel already knows several members of the team from high school or summer hockey and said she’s looking forward to skating with them.
And though Schammel may not be able to make the same impact on the score sheet she did last season, she said she’s still looking forward to the Gophers’ successful team dynamic.
“It pushes a lot of girls to keep working hard and to get better, and that’s something that’s really special,” Schammel said.