One of the most accomplished ice hockey players to hail from the state of Minnesota, Jenny Potter’s career is synonymous with excellence, a superlative legacy without dispute. Gracious and appreciative, Potter masterfully assembled a Hall of Fame worthy career filled with historic firsts.
Among such firsts, the native of Saint Paul become the first American-born player to capture Winter Games gold, the gold at the IIHF Women’s Worlds, along with a Clarkson Cup and an NCAA Frozen Four title. Such a grand slam is so rare that only one other player has achieved such dizzying heights, former Bulldogs teammate and one-time Whitecaps skater Caroline Ouellette.
As the 20th anniversary of the Nagano Winter Games approaches, it was the greatest achievement in Potter’s career. Of note, the golden outcome established Potter, Cammi Granato and Angela Ruggiero as a terrific trinity of elite hockey in the United States for more than a decade. Nagano was also the catalyst that launched Potter into a role model for a new generation of girls to take up the game, with registration rising annually.
With the chance to return to the Minnesota Whitecaps in 2016-17, it not only brings Potter’s career full circle, gracing the ice with long lost friends and remarkable teammates such as Chelsey and Winny Brodt, along with Brooke White-Lancette. It allows her the opportunity to return to her proud roots, rekindling what made the game so special to her, while helping establish new memories,
“It has been great playing again for the Whitecaps. It has been a lot of fun playing against the top WCHA teams as well as reuniting with players I grew up playing with. It has been a challenge working on getting back in shape and playing at a high level, but it has been enjoyable and why I still love playing hockey. It is the love and passion for the sport that keep you coming back for more. “
Of note, the 2016-17 edition of the Whitecaps features an impressive triumvirate of elite young hockey talent who recently graduated from the NCAA in the aftermath of the 2015-16 season. Akin to Potter, all have worn the USA Hockey jersey at a young age.
For the likes of All-American goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Patty Kazmaier Award winner Kendall Coyne and Hannah Brandt, a former winner of the Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award, the opportunity to call a living legend like Potter a teammate represents more than a proud milestone in their promising careers; it is the bridging of generations.
Considering that Potter, an inaugural member of the team that her father helped bring to reality, there will always be a strong sense of pride whenever she has the opportunity to don the club’s colors. As her exceptional career has run parallel to the remarkable growth of the game throughout the United States, the chance to see a new generation of players continue their careers as Whitecaps is testament to her father’s great vision,
“It has been great to see the growth of women’s hockey and that was my dad’s dream and vision when he started the Whitecaps. He wanted a place for myself and others to be able to continue to play at a high level and grow the game.”
Over the last few seasons, Potter had not worn the Whitecaps jersey. Instead, her acumen and exceptional presence were evident behind the bench, as her career engaged in a new chapter where she served in the capacity of head coach.
Last season, Potter returned to the WCHA, where she once played with the powerhouse Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, to take on the role of head coach with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Helping the Buckeyes rebuild and refocus, she placed the program back into the postseason, while sharing her acumen with the likes of players such as Jincy Dunne, Julia McKinnon and Kassidy Sauve, who all held the distinction of competing in the IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds, shining among the stars on Potters’ roster.
Among Potter’s great legacies in women’s ice hockey, one of her greatest and most lasting on the American female sporting landscape involves her role as one of the players who helped propel the Whitecaps to history. As the first American-based club to capture the Clarkson Cup in 2010, complemented by its legacy as the longest-running club in the US, it has evolved into the gold standard.
Taking into account that the Whitecaps also competed in the inaugural Clarkson Cup, held in 2009 in Kingston, Ontario, it was the denouement to an ideal season for Potter, subsequently providing her with a series of heartfelt memories.
From the residual warmth of the rink to the thrill of the competition, the 2008-09 season was one that saw Potter excel in her home state at two different levels of play, while combining the grace, sportsmanship and poise that makes her a model teammate, a gifted player and a world-class individual. It was the perfect setting for what emerged as a treasured time, while continuing to establish Potter as the kind of player that anyone would love to have skate alongside them on their team,
“I would say the 2008-09 season was my favorite. It was the year the USA had a residency year in Blaine and a lot of us played for the Whitecaps and the National team. Combined we played probably 30-40 games which for players today that probably is not a whole lot.
Yet, when you are training to be the best and you are out of college, you do not have many avenues to play in competitive games, so when you do get to play in games you appreciate it a lot more and get more out of them.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”