After a successful freshman campaign at St. Olaf College, New Ulm’s Madeline Gag is Aiming to get better
Gag played in 22 of the Oles’ 25 games this year, missing three due to injury. She saw quite a bit of ice time in her first season at St. Olaf.
“It was nice, the three games I missed, it was because I got a concussion in our game against St. Ben’s,” she said. “It was kind of devastating, because it was my first year. But other than that, it was nice to be on the team, especially with a new coach. We were going through a learning phase and everyone was still trying to get the culture of the team put together. But by the end of the year, I really enjoyed being on the team and all the play time was nice. It wasn’t what I was expecting going in.”
Gag was a four-year varsity defenseman for New Ulm and she played in the state tournament in her junior year. She said that her first impression of the college game was that it was going to be tough.
“Going in, it was so intense, the first couple weeks we had preseason workouts and they were so hard,” Gag said. “Toward the end of the season, I was just used to it, but it was just very intense and you had to be very determined and focused to keep up with everything and to keep up with the expectation of being an Ole, you’re just expected to be amazing and a good character person.”
She said that she knew a few of the players going into her first season, so that also helped her.
“At least five or six of them that I play with are on my U-19 team that I play with in the summer,” Gag said. “I knew a lot of people, plus a couple of the girls my age I played on the senior classic team with, so we already knew each other. It was nice seeing familiar faces.”
Gag finished her inaugural season at St. Olaf with two assists and 12 penalty minutes. She had 22 blocks and a +/- of -22. She said that it was tough at times and she hit a wall at one point in the season.
“I very much did, after one of my hockey games, I was so overwhelmed that I ended up crying to my parents in the waiting room,” she said. “That was kind of a realization that it’s been a lot. My parents talked me through it and made sure that I was OK and knew that I was doing well.”
The Oles finished the season winless at 0-23-2, but Gag wasn’t too upset with that. The Oles had some problems putting the puck in the net. They were outscored 112-24.
“Towards the end of the season, we just meshed together better,” she said. “We just good communication and we had good breakout skills, but when it came to offense and scoring, that’s where we struggled. Some teams just overpowered us, which was to be expected, but we actually overcame a lot.”
As for next year, she’s hoping to get a summer season in to work on a few things. She was also given some feedback from her coaches at the end of the season.
“For me, it was mostly confidence,” she said. “I do struggle with that and going into such a high-level of play, it’s kind of hard for me to be confident.”
While the college game was faster, it was also more physical, something she liked.
“It was kind of nice, because I could get away with more,” she said. “I definitely got less penalties in college than I did in high school and so that was nice because I could be more physical.”
With one year under her belt, she’s working on getting better for her sophomore year.
“Going into next year, I want to be more confident and more sure of myself as a player, other than that, I’ve been pretty relaxed with how I want to play, I just want to be the best I can be,” she said.