MINNEAPOLIS — While Audrey Wethington was in eastern Europe playing for Team USA over the holidays, if the rest of her family got to sit down at their Edina home for a meal together, it was a rare moment away from the hockey rink.
The rink — specifically the outdoor ice sheet in the shadow of downtown Minneapolis where Hockey Day Minnesota festivities begin on Thursday, Jan. 16 — is where you will find most of the Wethingtons this weekend. Audrey, a senior forward at The Blake School, and her younger sister Jackie will play there Thursday evening when the Bears face Grand Rapids-Greenway.
Less than 48 hours later, older sister Madeline will skate there for the Minnesota Gophers women’s team when they face Ohio State. As the fate of competing hockey schedules would have it, that’s the same day that the youngest Wethington girl, Adeline, plays in a U-12 tournament in Duluth, meaning their mother, Kerry, will be in Minneapolis on Thursday, but not Saturday.
“It’s nice because Jackie and Audrey have gotten to play together on the same team, and then I have a U-12 and one in college, so we’re trying to make it to as many games as we can,” said Kerry Wethington, after watching Audrey score twice in a 4-3 loss to arch-rival Breck on Tuesday.
Kerry (formerly Brodt) grew up in a famous hockey family in Roseville, with two sisters — Winny and Chelsea — who starred for the Gophers and now skate for the Minnesota Whitecaps, while Kerry was the first Division I women’s hockey coach at St. Cloud State two decades ago. Last weekend, Madeline visited her mother’s old workplace and had a three-point series versus the Huskies, earning her second straight WCHA rookie of the week honor as the Gophers moved back atop the national polls.
“Madeline was on that ice when she was just a newborn, so it was kind of a surreal moment,” Kerry admitted, watching her daughter play against the Huskies. “Twenty years goes by that fast.”
Madeline, who was Minnesota’s Ms. Hockey last season as a senior at Blake, has made an immediate impression on the Gophers blue line.
“One of the biggest strengths of the team has been all six of our defensemen and Madeline is fitting right in with that,” Gophers coach Brad Frost said. “She has a tendency to make the right play all the time and is very competitive, just like her aunt Winny. She just loves to play the game.”
Audrey is just a few weeks removed from winning an international gold medal while playing for Team USA at the U-18 world championships in Slovakia. While their father, Patrick, made the long voyage to see the games in person, there was some grumbling about the quality of the streaming video of the games provided to viewers in North America. The Wethingtons back in Minnesota had no complaints.
“I watched every single game, every shift of hers,” Madeline said, noting that Slovakia's time zone is seven hours later than that of Minnesota. “It was great, and it was a lot nicer this year. The year before she was in Japan, so with the time zone I’d have to wake up at 3 a.m.”
While some would look at Audrey’s lack of holiday rest as a disadvantage as a long hockey season wears on, she flew home with a gold medal, and a new determination to earn a second medal next month in St. Paul, before she joins Madeline on the Gophers’ roster next season.
“I’m definitely energized. It was an awesome time with my teammates,” Audrey said, two days before their outdoor game. “We got the result we wanted and I’ve tried to bring some of the stuff I learned from USA Hockey back to this team. Hopefully to win a state championship is obviously the goal.”
Madeline got more rest over the holiday break, and when she wasn’t glued to the computer screen watching Audrey’s team play in Europe, she and the two youngest Wethington girls would head to a neighborhood outdoor rink in Edina to play shinny, and to prep for the unique experience coming this weekend.
“It’s going to be fun to be outside playing in the elements with the skyline behind us,” Blake girls coach Shawn Reid said. “To be asked to be one of the four girls teams in the state to participate in this is really special.”
And as usual, if you’re looking for any of the Wethingtons, you can find them at the rink.