Gophers forward Abbey Murphy well on her way to Beijing

Sophomore forward is taking year off from school to follow her Olympic dream

Abbey Murphy skates against Ohio State.jpg
Minnesota forward Abbey Murphy skates back to the bench during a 4-0 victory over Ohio State on Nov. 21, 2020, at Ridder Arena. Murphy, a sophomore, is taking a redshirt season in 2021-22 to join Team USA for the Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb. 4-20.
Contributed / Gophers Athletics via St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL -- Abbey Murphy was 16 years old when the idea of competing in the 2022 Olympics first started floating around in her head. It wasn’t until a few years later — earlier this year when she was included in the national team’s selection camp and then on the residency roster — that she actually figured it might be possible.

At 19, Murphy is the second-youngest player expected to make the Olympic roster, just six months older than defenseman Caroline Harvey. In order to chase after her dream, Murphy, who would be a sophomore for the Gophers this season, is taking a redshirt season to dedicate this year to hockey instead of schoolwork.

While the Olympic roster hasn’t been formally announced, it was recently trimmed to 23 players, the number of players that will compete in Beijing during the Games Feb. 4-20. Currently, Murphy and her teammates are competing in the My Why Tour, a series of games against Canada, which will bring them to St. Paul to compete at the Xcel Energy Center on Monday night.

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now than doing this with my teammates,” she said. “It’s been a heck of a ride so far.”

Still, shifting focus full-time to hockey and not having to balance school has been “really weird” for Murphy, who is still living on campus with Gophers teammates Maggie Nicholson and Josey Dunne.


“I’ve kind of adjusted to it now, but like the first month, I always thought I had to wake up and go to class,” she said.

Instead, she wakes up every day and reports to the Super Rink in Blaine, where the team has been training since October. The team trains from 9 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m. on a typical day, she said, and the experience has been “surreal.”

Murphy was especially excited for the chance to share the ice with Kendall Coyne Schofield, the captain of the US women’s national team who hails from a neighboring suburb in Chicago.

“I’ve looked up to her since I was little, and being close to her in my hometown, it’s pretty cool,” Murphy said. “I never really thought this day would come this fast, and it’s been awesome playing with the older girls that I’ve looked up to since I was a 12-year-old-kid. It’s unreal.”

Awesome, but not unexpected.

The forward was the No. 1 player in her recruiting class. She competed in three IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championships, winning gold in two of them. And as a freshman at Minnesota, she was second on the team in points behind just Grace Zumwinkle, who also is expected to make the Olympic team.

“Her skill set continues to be special. When she was a college player, she was dynamic and she still is dynamic,” said Olympic team coach Joel Johnson, who was an assistant at Minnesota last year. “I think Abbey Murphy is somebody who is learning to play an honest 200-foot hockey game and be diligent, be disciplined where she needs to be.”

Team USA forward Hannah Brandt, herself a former Gophers star, praised Murphy for her feistiness. Murphy’s ability to get under the skin of opponents and irritate them “gives us motivation to keep going,” Brandt said.


“Just seeing how she’s developed at this level, the speed she brings, the vision … she’s just constantly doing things that make you kind of gasp just like, ‘Wow,’ ” Brandt said.

And now, she’ll have a chance to do it on the international stage in Beijing.

Like she dreamed about years earlier.

“I always wanted to be there,” Murphy said. “I just didn’t think it’d come this fast.”

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