This is the eleventh in a series of articles honoring the 20 players who have been selected to the WCHA's 20th anniversary all-time team. This week's honoree is Gigi Marvin, a forward who played at Minnesota from 2005-06 to 2008-09.
By Bill Brophy
If this is a victory lap for the oldest player on last year's gold medal-winning United States Olympic hockey team, you'd never know it by watching the play of Gigi Marvin.
She is among the leading goal-scores in the National Women's Hockey League this season and a leader for the league-leading Boston Pride. However she still reacted like the former Ms. Hockey from Warroad, Minn. on a recent visit to St. Paul, Minnesota when the Pride played her former team, the Minnesota Whitecaps.
Rick Benson was the distinctive public address announcer when Marvin was a two-time Patty Kazmaier Award finalist at the University of Minnesota. The Whitecaps hired Benson for their initial season in the NWHL and when Marvin made her first appearance at TRIA Arena last month, the Pride's forward recognized the flare to his thunderous pre-game introduction of GeeeeeeGeeeeee Marvin.
"I am a Gopher and a diehard Minnesotan," said Marvin. "I loved playing in Minnesota and for the Whitecaps. Now when I went back to play against the Whitecaps, they had the same public address announcer who did the Gopher games when I played. He introduced me the same way he did in college. I loved it. It just brought a smile to my face. That is how the people who played with me still greet me: GeeeeeGeeeee Marvin."
Marvin will be 32 in March, but she still plays with the exuberance of her high school days in Warroad, Minnesota.
"I get a lot of joy from playing the game," she says. "God has given me the gift to play this game and I just love playing. After being able to play in the Olympics pain-free, I am filled with gratitude and appreciation."
Hailing from Hockeytown, USA, Marvin has always been a rink-rat. Her grandfather, Cal Marvin, who coached the 1958 U.S. men's national team, was a manager of Team USA in 1965 and is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and University of North Dakota Athletic Hall of Fame. For 50 years he ran the Warroad Lakers in a town which produced 1960 gold medalists Bill and Roger Christian, 1980 gold medalist David Christian and former NHL standout Henry Boucha. Gigi was the queen of Warroad's 2005 Frosty Festival in the same year the king was T.J. Oshie, the Washington Capitols forward who starred in the 2014 Olympics.
When she wasn't royalty at the Frosty Festival, Gigi was a magician on the ice. She scored 196 goals and 425 points in her prep hockey career, including 55 goals and 112 points her senior year.
She was a highly-prized recruit who went to Minnesota, where she was the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's rookie of the year in 2006. Marvin was named all-WCHA in 2006-07 and an all-American in 2007-08 after posting 23 goals and 54 points. Gigi led the Gophers into the Frozen Four as a senior and was named WCHA Student Athlete of the Year after a 30-goal season. She is eighth all-time on the Gophers career scoring list with 87 goals, 108 assists and 195 points.
But she doesn't talk about any special game from her career. She talks about rinks.
"I loved playing at Ridder," said Marvin about the Gophers' on-campus Minneapolis arena. "There is not a better place in college anywhere in this country. I love the U and everything that goes with it. I loved playing at Ridder with a packed house against Duluth or facing Wisconsin in the playoffs or beating BC to go the Final Four. Those are great memories. And playing at the Ralph (Englestad Arena in Grand Forks) was always important to me because of what my grandpa means to North Dakota. Those are special, special memories from my days in college."
Marvin has made a name for herself internationally as well. She has won five gold medals and two silvers while playing for the United States in the IIHF World Championships. She also won silver medals at the Winter Olympics in 2010 in Vancouver and 2014 in Sochi.
In 2014 Marvin was bothered with a hip injury and wasn't sure she would be healthy enough for a try for gold in Pyenonchang, South Korea. She took a year off from hockey after Sochi and after a lot of therapy and a reliance on her faith, she regained her spot as the oldest player on the U.S. Olympic team. "You talk to any NHL player who has put on the miles and you feel it," said Marvin. "But it was crazy. It took a long time but I played for the first time without pain."
Marvin ended up the 2018 Games tied for third on the U.S. team in goals and points. She also had a goal in the memorable shootout which pushed the U.S. past Canada and gave the Americans their first gold medal in 20 years.
Since the Olympics, "things haven't slowed down much," said Marvin. She did a media tour with her teammates, ran her hockey school in Warroad "that I absolutely love" last summer and joined the Pride for the NWHL season.
She recognizes her role as a leader in her sport and has seen the game change.
"I see a lot more emphasis on the conditioning aspect of the game. You see seventh and eighth graders in the weight room now," said Marvin. "We skated all time, but now there is so much material on strength training and the mental approach to the game. That strength translates to speed on the ice. The game is quicker now. You see it in the college game. You see it in high school. I saw it in the difference between our 2010 team and the Olympic team last year."
Marvin said she plans to keep playing as long as she can.
"I am taking it a year at a time. I love my teammates in Boston and on the national team," said Marvin. "I love coaching young kids. I get a charge when new people get a chance to see the gold medal and I can see the look on their faces.
"It's making memories. I just love skating and playing the game. This game just gives me so much joy. I am grateful to play and hopefully can do so for a long time."
About the WCHA 20th Anniversary Team
As it celebrates 20 Years of Excellence during the 2018-19 season, the Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will honor the 20 alumnae named to the WCHA 20th Anniversary Team. The team will be revealed, one-by-one, in alphabetical order, one per week (except for the week of Dec. 24) through the week of March 4, prior to the 2019 WCHA Final Faceoff.
From an initial list of 120 nominations, representing each of the league's all-time eight schools, the WCHA 20th Anniversary Team Committee selected 41 finalists. To be nominated a player (forward, defenseman or goaltender) must have completed her collegiate eligibility at a WCHA institution (nominees did not have to play a full four seasons in the WCHA; however, current student-athletes were not eligible).
The WCHA 20th Anniversary team was determined by 1/3 fan vote, 1/3 WCHA alumnae vote and 1/3 Committee vote (consisting of two WCHA Office staff, one former and two current head coaches and three alumnae).
Other WCHA 20th Anniversary Team members:
Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson