Minnesota Duluth will be without junior forward Kassy Betinol in 2021-22 while she centralizes with the Chinese women’s national hockey team in the lead up to the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

Betinol, who finished last season as a fourth-line winger, has three goals and four assists in 55 career games for the Bulldogs over the previous two seasons. She is one of two 2021-22 Bulldogs who are centralized with national teams this season ahead of the Olympics, along with Canada’s Ashton Bell.

Playing in the WHL World Cup this month in Sochi, Russia, Betinol scored a pair of goals for China in a 4-2 loss to former Bulldog Ryleigh Houston and the Vanke Rays.

Betinol, an Asian-Canadian who grew up in Okotoks, Alberta, has previous national team experience in Canada. She played for Team Alberta growing up and was invited to Hockey Canada’s National Women’s Development Team summer camp in 2020.

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China, ranked 20th in the latest world rankings by the IIHF, received an automatic berth into the 2022 Olympics as the host country. The national team will be coached by former North Dakota coach Brian Idalski.

Bulldogs ranked fifth by USCHO

After sharing the No. 4 ranking with Minnesota in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine preseason poll released a week ago, the Bulldogs were edged out for the No. 4 spot on Monday in the preseason Division I women’s hockey poll released by USCHO.

The Bulldogs came in at No. 5, just nine points back of No. 4 Minnesota in the voting. Wisconsin took the top spot, garnering 13 of 15 first-place votes. Northeastern nabbed the other two first-place votes to finish second and Ohio State came in third.

UMD was also slotted behind Minnesota in the preseason WCHA coaches poll that was released earlier this month.

The Bulldogs and Gophers both open the season Oct. 1-2 with UMD traveling to Minnesota State-Mankato and Minnesota hosting Ohio State. The Bulldogs and Gophers will meet the following week, Oct. 8-9, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

Future goalie back in QMJHL

Goaltender Eve Gascon, who is verbally committed to join the Bulldogs beginning with the 2023-24 season, was back in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on Saturday. She made 19 saves on 20 shots for the Gatineau Olympiques in an 8-1 preseason victory over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

Gascon was with the Olympiques during their August training camp, playing in three games before being cut by the team. She was recalled over the weekend to bolster the roster while the Olympiques’ NHL prospects take part in NHL development camps and prospect tournaments.

Gascon is one of four women to ever take part in a QMJHL training camp. Only two — goaltenders Manon Rheaume and Charline Labonte — have played in a regular season QMJHL game.

While a men’s hockey recruit would lose his NCAA eligibility if he played a game in one of Canada’s Major Junior leagues, like the QMJHL, no such rule exists for women’s hockey recruits. The NCAA allows women’s hockey recruits may try out and play for a professional team — the NCAA classifies Major Junior as professional — prior to full-time enrollment, granted they do not receive “more than actual and necessary expenses,” according to the NCAA Division I manual (Page 69, 12.2.2.2.1 and 12.2.3.2.1).