Having enjoyed the prestige of two NCAA Frozen Four championships with the fabled Minnesota Golden Gophers, Kate Schipper stands as one of the modern heroes among the women who grace the ice in the State of Hockey. A Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and an alternate captain with the Golden Gophers in her senior season (2016-17), Schipper was always a model of both leadership and consistency, extending the Golden Gophers’ sterling standing as the gold standard of elite women’s ice hockey.
Extending her proud career by donning the jersey of the iconic Minnesota Whitecaps (she even played for the Minnesota Jr. Whitecaps in her youth), the growing legacy for the native of Brooklyn Park took on new sheen in a fascinating showcase for the finest of professional women’s ice hockey. In a career that has included a Minnesota state title in 2012, competition with the US national team at the IIHF U18 women’s worlds, plus the game-winning goal at the US Hockey Hall of Fame Museum Game last season, such a showcase was most worthy of Schipper’s peerless presence.
Gaining the opportunity to be part of a monumental event in which the impact of both the NWHL and the Whitecaps intersected, with the hockey-mad city of Saint Paul serving as the perfect backdrop, Schipper’s season culminated with an aura of All-Star prestige. Hosting its All-Star Game for the second consecutive season in a neutral site (the 2017 edition was contested in Pittsburgh), the NWHL commendably extended the honor of competing in the mid-season classic.
Schipper was joined by Whitecaps teammate Sadie Lundquist among the luminaries representing the revered club. As a side note, Schipper and Lundquist also enjoyed the opportunity of participating in the NWHL All-Star Skills Competition as well. Taking to the ice for the Fastest Skater competition, Schipper was joined by fellow Team Leveille All-Stars Rebecca Russo of the Metropolitan Riveters, and Buffalo Beauts rookie sensation Kristin Lewicki.
“I think my first reaction when (Whitecaps GM) Laura (Halldorson) asked if I would like to participate in the All-Star Weekend was surprise. I had no idea the NWHL was planning to host the All Star weekend in Minnesota. Of course, once I started to think about it, I was excited (and a little nervous) for the weekend.”
With both rosters featuring its goaltenders serving as team captains, a first in NWHL All-Star history, there was a familiar face for Schipper. Of note, Amanda Leveille, who became the first Canadian goaltender to win the Isobel Cup, was named team captain, while Brittany Ott, who captured the inaugural Cup in 2016 with the Boston Pride, led the opposing team of All-Stars.
Akin to Schipper, Leveille also competed with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. In addition, Jordyn Burns, a member of the Buffalo Beauts who was also raised in Brooklyn Park, also boasts a remarkable run of championship hockey with the Golden Gophers. Burns was a teammate of Schipper from 2013-15 after transferring from Syracuse while Leveille played with Schipper from 2013-16. With all three alumnae calling each other teammates in the NWHL All-Star Game, it was an improbable opportunity, befriending each other while strengthening Gophers heritage,
“I enjoyed getting to play on the same team as Jordyn and Lev this past weekend! It gave us a chance to catch up with each other.”
In addition, the roster featured one of the most notable luminaries in the State of Hockey. Winny Brodt-Brown, whom Schipper has called a teammate on the Whitecaps, took on a new role for the NWHL All-Star Game. Taking on the mantle of head coach for Team Leveille, it provided for a unique aspect in Schipper’s career, although she remains in awe of her remarkable on-ice abilities, quick to applaud such a strong set of skills,
“It was really fun to have Winny participate as a coach, but I think I will always prefer playing on the same team as her (smiles).”
Undoubtedly, the third NWHL All-Star Game presented Schipper with many more stirring moments. Perhaps the most intriguing was facing off in the game against Whitecaps teammate Lundquist, who was allied with Team Ott on this day. While Lundquist was on the winning side, as a community of enthusiastic fans at TRIA Rink witnessed a high-scoring 8-6 affair, there was a shared sense of victory on this day.
Perhaps the most prized feature for Schipper encompassed the prospect of participating in a very poignant outdoor skate, as the rink for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival adopted a dual role, serving as meeting point for the modern stars of professional women’s hockey and new generations of competitors striving to one day build on the current foundation.
Surrounded by a gathering of young female players on the frozen surface, appreciative of their heroics, the chance to form bonds and supply inspiration resulted in a feeling of fulfillment that was certainly reciprocal, providing a moving yet revitalizing focal point in such a monumental weekend for Schipper,
“Oh, I am not sure I can pick one favorite moment. Looking back, I think I most enjoyed getting to see and interact all of the little hockey girls who came to watch and support professional women’s hockey!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Kirsten Burton