This is the 14th 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 Jenny Schmidgall-Potter, a forward who played at Minnesota from 1998-1999 and Minnesota Duluth from 1999-2000, 2002-03 to 2003-04.
By Bill Brophy
Jenny Potter is arguably the most decorated women's hockey player in American history.
Until last February she was the only American-born player who was a member of the exclusive Triple Gold Club, which is not officially recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation, but is a prestigious group which includes players who have won gold medals in the Winter Olympics, the IIHF World Championships and one of the North American pro leagues – either the National Women's Hockey League (the Isobel Cup) or the Canadian Women's Hockey League (the Clarkson Cup).
Potter got company in this group of 20 women last year when six players from the 2018 U.S. Olympic team – Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Gigi Marvin, Monique Lamoureux, all members of the WCHA's 20th anniversary team, and Kacey Bellamy -- joined the Triple Gold Club after winning gold in Korea.
Potter, a member of the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame and an advocate for USA Hockey, would likely say the more the merrier. It takes nothing away from what Potter accomplished – both in her international career, where she has four Olympic medals, and college days.
As a star in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Potter played one year at Minnesota who was a highly-touted rookie known as Jenny Schmidgall, and three years at Minnesota Duluth, where Schmiggy was an all-American and a top three finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award as college hockey's finest player every season. In her college career, the Edina, Minn., native scored 327 points
Potter is UMD's all-time scoring leader, amassing 256 points (108 goals, 148 assists) in just 102 games during her three-year career. She received WCHA Player of the Year honors in both 1999-2000 and 2003-04 and All-WCHA first team recognition three times while at UMD. Potter set single-season records for points (93) and goals (41) in 1999-2000, UMD's inaugural season, and assists (57) in 2002-03.
Twice Potter scored six goals in a game, still a league record, and holds Duluth's records for points (nine) and assists (six) in a game.
When he was her coach on the 2010 Olympic team, Wisconsin's Mark Johnson, college hockey's winningest coach, was asked about what stood out about Potter, he talked about her competitiveness.
When Shari Dickerman, now a Minnesota State assistant coach, was asked what she remembers most about playing against Potter, she also didn't hesitate with an answer.
"She is probably the most competitive person I played against," said Dickerman, a former all-American goalie at Minnesota State. "Obviously she isn't that big, but if she went into the corner, she was going to come up with the puck."
Potter led the nation in scoring as a sophomore, was third as a junior and second as a senior and the Bulldogs flourished. UMD won the NCAA championship in 2002-03, one WCHA regular season title and two WCHA playoff crowns during Potter's career.
Potter, who was chosen to the WCHA's all-decade team in 2009, only stands 5-4 and played at 145 pounds.
"She isn't big, but she plays big," said Dickerman. "If there is a stick battle in the corner, she wouldn't back down. She was powerful and explosive. She could really distribute the puck and when she was playing with (Caroline) Ouellette or (Maria) Rooth she was a goalie's nightmare."
Potter made her biggest mark on the game at the international level. She won a gold medal in 1998 in Nagano, Japan while playing on the historic U.S. Olympic team and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame for their impact on the game.
Potter remains one of the most highly-decorated players in women's hockey history, earning six gold, nine silver and one bronze medal with Team USA in a 14-year international playing career that included four Winter Olympics, 10 World Championships and two Four Nations Cups.
Her Olympic medal collection includes two silver (2002 and 2010) and one bronze (2006). She finished as Team USA's top point producer at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, with both of her children in attendance, and became the first Olympian to record back-to-back hat tricks that year.
Potter received her degree from UMD in business management. She played professionally for the Boston Blades and Minnesota Whitecaps, the Clarkson Cup champs in 2010 and a team that her father Dwayne Schmidgall helped get off the ground.
After retiring as a player, Jenny coached nine years of high school hockey in Minnesota and served for two years as head coach at Trinity College, a Division III program in Hartford, Conn. She was the head coach at Ohio State in 2015-16.
Potter just turned 40 this month and is currently the head coach for the Slovakia women's national team. She runs a summer hockey school with her husband Rob in the Twin Cities and recently was named one of the best 25 players to play high school hockey in Minnesota for her career at Edina High School.
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