Scoring sensation Heise fired up for 2023
by Liz Montroy|05 OCT 2022
Taylor Heise (left) celebrates a goal against Japan with Hayley Scamurra and Savannah Harmon.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images

Taylor Heise’s arrival in Denmark for her debut senior World Championship did not go as planned. While most of Team USA arrived a week in advance, Heise touched down just one day before the United States’ opening game of the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship due to a positive COVID-19 test result she received during the team’s pre-tournament camp in Buffalo. 

However, the 22-year-old from Lake City, Minnesota responded with an outstanding performance in her first game, assisting on five of the United States’ 10 goals in their win over Japan—and she didn’t stop there. At the end of the tournament she was recognized with Most Valuable Player and Best Forward honours, and was named to the Media All-Star Team.

Heise registered at least one point in six of the United States’ seven games, two five-point games (10-0 win over Japan and 10-1 win over Czechia), and a hat trick versus Hungary. She led the tournament in scoring with seven goals and 11 assists, and her 18 points put her second behind record-holder Cindy Curley for the most points by a player in a single Women’s Worlds. She was also second in the tournament in face-off percentage (71.29%) and plus-minus (+16).

Adding to the impressiveness of Heise’s performance is that prior to this tournament, her last international appearance was four years ago. Heise won gold at the 2016, 2017 and 2018 U18 Women’s Worlds (also earning MVP and Best Forward accolades in 2018), but failed to make the U.S. roster for the 2019 and 2021 senior Worlds.

“Obviously not my choice,” she said of the long break between national team appearances. “I’ve been working in the offseason every single day, and it was finally able to be shown here. I was just working and I was waiting. I love the times when people aren’t watching because those are the most rewarding times at the end of the day.”

During that four year period, Heise made a name for herself in the NCAA with the University of Minnesota. Leading the nation in points last season, she was named the 2021-22 Patty Kazmaier Award recipient, adding to the countless accolades she has collected during her time with the Gophers. In Denmark, she centered two other Patty Kazmaier winners, Amanda Kessel (2013, University of Minnesota) and Alex Carpenter (2015, Boston College).

“I can’t really give them enough credit,” said Heise. “I think this tournament was a new leaf for me, stepping up, and I think I was able to do that only because of my teammates. Especially since I came late [due to Covid], I think that they made sure that I was feeling comfortable, feeling confident, and I think you don’t do the things we were able to do as a team, and me personally, without that.”

Kessel closely followed Heise in the points race, with six goals and 11 assists, and the trio led the tournament in plus-minus (Kessel with +17, Heise with +16 and Carpenter with +15). Recognizing the opportunity she had playing with two notable veterans, Heise was ready to absorb Carpenter and Kessel's wealth of World Championship and Olympic experience.

“Those two, Carp and Kes, I honestly can’t say more about them, because they are such good people, before they were good hockey players—and when I say good, I mean great,” said Heise. “I think that they take their game and they up it every single year and every single game. I’ve been able to watch them for so long, and obviously these [MVP] honours are awesome for me, but at the end of the day, this is a special team, and we’re going to take this right here and we’re going to turn it into gold next time. I believe that wholeheartedly.”

Heise is of course referring to the United States’ 2-1 fall to Canada in the gold medal game, the only game in which she was unable to collect a point and the only loss of the tournament for the Americans. Her plan now? Take her silver medal home to Minnesota and put on a stunning show in her fifth and final season with the University of Minnesota to prepare for the 2023 World Championship.

“I’m going to let this sting for a little bit and let this hurt a little bit, and then go back to my hometown and go back to the Gophers and absolutely just tear it up,” said Heise. “I came here to add things to my game and that’s exactly what I did.”

“I look at every single person on this team because they’re so special in their own ways and I’m going to take something from every person and I’m going to come back and going to use that not only to play my best, but to lead the team. I can’t even thank God enough for putting me here, because I think just being a part of this team with so many amazing players has not only built me up as a hockey player, but as a person.”