It is not often that a player wins Western Collegiate Hockey Association Offensive Player of the Week and then WCHA Defensive Player of the Month, but Gophers senior captain Sydney Baldwin did just that.
Baldwin leads the Gophers with 11 points. She is the WCHA’s top scoring defender and fourth in scoring among all WCHA players this season. She also has 34 blocked shots, 10 assists and 29 shots on goal. The 34 blocked shots leads the WCHA.
She also received the WCHA offensive player of the week after the Gophers’ series against Bemidji State, where she totaled four points in two games.
“I think she has improved on her defensive aspect of her game since she started and that is why it is neat to see her as the defensive player of the month,” said head coach Brad Frost. “The intensity you have to play with, the battle and compete level you have to play with is something she does day in and day out, which is great.”
Baldwin said she has never been too concerned with accolades, but for someone who says that, she has a lot of them.
Baldwin has played all four years, coming in as Ms. Hockey from Minnetonka, Minnesota and playing on two national championship teams. She knows what it takes to be successful and looking at the Gophers who are ranked sixth in the nation and have four losses, she realizes the team is more important than an award.
“It is a really cool individual accolade, but everyone on our team can say the same in that we are more focused on the team as a whole rather than some individual accolades,” Baldwin said.
She has had to carry a much heavier load this year. The Gophers the past few weeks have been working with just four defensemen, two of those defensemen being freshman. At the beginning of the season, the Gophers were letting in too many goals to Frost's liking, but recently their defense has tightened up thanks to Baldwin's leadership.
In the first four games of the season, the Gophers let in a total of 11 goals. In the last six games, they gave up nine. The senior captain has faced pressure to get the freshman up to speed as quickly as possible, and the stats show they've been coming around.
“She is really the staple on our defense, she has been playing really hard and really well for us,” said Nicole Schammel. “She leads by example on the ice and it is proven with that award.”
Baldwin will look to continue to improve in her last season in a Minnesota uniform. Baldwin said she feels that in her time here at Minnesota, she has learned to lean into her strengths like blocking shots and getting more involved on the offensive. That’s proven, too, as she leads the Gophers in points.
As for what she wants to do after the hockey season, Baldwin said she might look to play more hockey once she is done, but really has no idea.
“That is the golden question. I have tossed around the idea of continuing to play, possibly getting a job and maybe do some traveling,” Baldwin said. “It is something I will have to figure out here as the season goes along.”
Drew Cove contributed to this report.