It looks like a "sophomore slump" won't be in store for a Gophers skater this season.
Right winger Grace Zumwinkle ended up on one of Minnesota's most productive lines by accident. When former Gophers center Caitlin Reilly injured herself last season, head coach Brad Frost put Zumwinkle on a line with center Taylor Wente and left winger Nicole Schammel — the line hasn't been separated since Reilly's injury. "We've clicked ever since then," Zumwinkle said.
The trio of Zumwinkle, Wente and Schammel has combined to score 23 points and nine goals so far this season. Last season, Zumwinkle led Minnesota in points with 38. She and Schammel tied for the team lead in goals with 17.
Frost said Zumwinkle's size makes her a constant threat on the ice to score. "Hitting the net is at a premium," he said. "She's doing a better job of that this season."
Zumwinkle had a productive series against Mercyhurst Sept. 29 to 30. She scored twice in the Gophers' 5-0 victory over the Lakers on Sept. 30 and recorded an assist on a goal by defender Patti Marshall on Sept. 29.
Zumwinkle sits next to Schammel in the locker room. Center Taylor Heise sits on Schammel's other side. As one of Minnesota's veteran leaders, Schammel gives advice to younger players like Zumwinkle, Wente and Heise.
Schammel said one trait that isn't tracked during the season is her selflessness. "She's always been a nice teammate," she said. "She'll do anything for you. If you need something, she'll bring it to you."
Zumwinkle's line has been separated for the first time in the past three games because Wente was ill. On Saturday against Ohio State, Schammel and Zumwinkle played a portion of the game with Gophers captain Kelly Pannek. Pannek usually plays with Amy and Sarah Potomak on the "Pots and Pan" line.
Zumwinkle said she will accept playing on a different line if lines need to be adjusted. "Being able to adapt and play with anyone is awesome," she said. "At this point in the season, everyone wants what's best for the team."
The line of Zumwinkle, Schammel and Wente combined for 95 points last season. One of the highlights of the season for Zumwinkle's line came against No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth on Oct. 5. Zumwinkle, Schammel and Wente combined for seven points in the Gopher's 5-2 victory over the Bulldogs. Wente scored twice and Schammel recorded a pair of assists. Zumwinkle had a goal and an assist that night.
Zumwinkle said she enjoys spending time with both Schammel and Wente even when the pair aren't on the ice. "Continuing to learn how each player plays has helped us," she said. "We get along well off the ice, which contributes to the success we have on the ice."