This is the 17th 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 Maria Rooth, a forward who played at Minnesota Duluth from 1999-2000 to 2003-04.
By Bill Brophy
The University of Minnesota Duluth is one of the charter members of the Women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association. In 20 years, UMD has won five national championships and produced 38 Olympians and 17 All-Americans.
The school has retired one women's hockey jersey: the number 27 worn by Maria Rooth.
The Swedish-born Rooth was the first star of Coach Shannon Miller's championship teams. She played for the Bulldogs from 1999 to 2003 and had 232 points (119 goals, 113 assists) in 124 games at UMD, an average of 1.87 per game. In her first season, she scored 68 points and was named the WCHA's Rookie of the Year.
The three-time All-American and four-time Olympian helped lead the Bulldogs to three consecutive Division I titles from 2001 to 2003. She was a three-time top-ten finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award which goes to the best women's college player.
In 2001, Rooth was the MVP of the NCAA Women's Frozen Four tournament. She was also named to the NCAA All-American First Team twice and Second Team once.
"Rooth was a great skater, very strong," said Ben Smith of USA Hockey. "A real thoroughbred as a player."
Smith knew Rooth as an international star. He was the coach of the gold-medal winning Team USA in Nagano, Japan when Rooth played for Sweden in the 1998 Olympics as an 18-year-old. Maria played in the 2002 Olympics and scored two goals as the Swedes won the bronze medal at the Salt Lake Games.
Rooth led Sweden past Team USA 3-2 in the semifinals of the Olympic competition in Turin, Italy. The game remains arguably the biggest upset in women's Olympic hockey history. Rooth scored twice in regulation to tie the game and scored again in overtime to send Sweden to the finals for the only time in Olympic history. Rooth ended the Olympics with five goals, four assists and nine points and won a silver medal
Rooth is the first Swedish player of any gender to ever score 100 goals in international competition. She played more than 260 games for Team Sweden and finished her career in 2010 with 105 international goals.
Rooth was elected into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2014.
Maria is 39-year-old and works in public relations in Grevie, Sweden. She runs her own summer hockey school, has her own clothing line and does media work on women's hockey telecasts.
For many years Rooth and former UMD's men's hockey icons Keith "Huffer" Chistiansen and Brett Hull were the only players to have their jersey hung in the rafters of the DECC, where they starred. The Bulldogs' athletic department has since retired the jerseys of men's stars Glenn "Chico" Resch, Bill Watson and Curt Giles. Rooth remains the lone women's honoree.
She returned to UMD for one year as an assistant coach to Miler for the 2010-11 season and took part in the ceremonial first faceoff on opening night at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth with former teammates Jenny Potter and Caroline Ouellette in January of that season, all reminders of the halcyon days of Bulldogs' women's hockey. Potter, Ouellette, Potter and Rooth are all members of the WCHA's all-decade team and now reunited as members of the WCHA's 20th anniversary team.
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