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UST Is Home For These Rangers

A full circle moment: Parent, Golnitz reunite as Tommies.

Brieja Parent and Rachel Golnitz reunited for their hockey careers at St. Thomas. (Photo courtesy of University of St. Thomas)

It seems like every college hockey player has a best friend on their team, but few can say that their bestie is someone they grew up with and played on the same high school team.

Even fewer can say that they went to different schools in college, stayed in touch and eventually reunited again at the same school. But that’s the interesting tale of St. Thomas senior forward Brieja Parent and junior defenseman Rachel Golnitz.

The Tommies tandem grew up together in the Forest Lake area and played for the Rangers in high school before briefly going their separate ways in college. While Parent’s father got her into skates “as soon as she could walk,” Golnitz didn’t start playing hockey until later.

“I actually started with soccer,” Golnitz said. “I didn’t play hockey and I was on Brieja’s team. After watching me play soccer, her dad and a bunch of other dads were like ‘I think she would like hockey. She’s pretty aggressive.’ So, it was Brie’s family that got me into hockey, and I started when I was about eight.”

Brieja Parent and Rachel Golnitz grew up as friends and played hockey for Forest Lake High School. (Photo courtesy of University of St. Thomas)

The twosome was very close growing up, going to Chicago for a soccer tournament at one point and Golnitz, who is a black belt, even got Parent into karate briefly. However, eventually, they both started to focus on hockey, their true love. They won the U12 state tournament and also went to state during Parent’s freshman year and when Golnitz was in eighth grade. They also shared some personal adventures, which often concluded in some funny stories.

“When we were younger, we used to rollerblade all the time together and we were rollerblading in my neighborhood, and we were going down this super steep hill,” Parent said. “If you took a left, it was a gravel, dirt road, and if you took a right, it was a regular road. I don’t remember if I told her to go left or if I just didn’t tell her, and she went left and she just absolutely ate it. She was full of dirt, and it was the funniest thing ever.”

“That was a tough go and I felt pretty dumb, I’m not going to lie,” Golnitz said, with a laugh. “I was all scratched up. If I was alone, I probably would’ve started crying, but since I was with Brieja, we just started laughing hysterically. I can remember it like it was yesterday.”

As is mostly the case after high school, athletes head to different schools for opportunities and it didn’t take long for Parent to choose Minnesota Duluth, where she played in eight games.

“Ever since I was little, that has always kind of been where I wanted to go,” she said. “When I went up there, I instantly loved it. That’s kind of why I picked it.”

While her best friend stayed in Minnesota, Golnitz decided to explore more before eventually deciding to go to Colgate in upstate New York.

“I just kind of wanted to get out of the state,” she said. “There’s so many great schools in Minnesota and especially hockey programs. Something in me was telling me to try something new. I ended up at Colgate because they had such a great academic standard and it’s a really small, tight-knit community with great sports teams.”

After one year with the Bulldogs, Parent decided to leave her dream school and go back to the Twin Cities and join the Tommies roster where she has racked up 10 goals and 23 points in three seasons so far.

“I just wasn’t thriving as much as I knew I could at Duluth, and I wanted a change,” she said. “I absolutely loved the coaches here and I came in the middle of the year and the team was so welcoming. The culture here is amazing and I kind of took a leap of faith and never looked back.”

Golnitz, on the other hand, spent two seasons with the Raiders where she had two assists, before being enticed to join the Tommies with Parent playing a bit of a role in that decision.

“I knew Brieja had come back a year and a half before I transferred,” Golnitz said. “As soon as I was looking to transfer, I talked to her regularly and remembered on my visit that she watched me for a while. It was definitely an incentive. I was like ‘I should just go here. Just for her’ and obviously with how great St. Thomas is, it was a done deal. I don’t know if she recruited me. She was just straight up with me, told me how great it was, and I’ve known her for so long that I knew I could trust her.”

Reunited and it feels so good
Once Parent knew Golnitz was joining her at UST, she said she cried and said the moment really hit home for her when they were both in the same locker room again.

“It was a full circle moment,” Parent said. “I remember just looking at her in a St. Thomas jersey and sitting in my stall in my jersey, I got full body chills. There was no way that we were wearing the same logo again and playing on the same team.”

“I was a little nervous coming into a new program, but with Brieja here, I had a lifelong friend and teammate,” Golnitz said. “I remember that first game playing for St. Thomas and looking at her having the same feelings. It was a really cool moment.”

Their first year together with the Tommies hasn’t been easy as UST just finished the regular season with a 10-24-1 record. However, both have enjoyed the time they’ve spent together.

Brieja Parent and Rachel Golnitz skate for St. Thomas in an exhibition game against Franklin Pierce in September 2023. (Photo courtesy of University of St. Thomas)

“It’s been really fun,” Golnitz said. “For me being my first year here, it’s been full of ups and downs. All along the way, whatever is happening, inside or outside of hockey, this program and the girls and the staff and the support staff are truly amazing people that care about you as a person and a player. I think with such a young team, we’ve gone through a lot of learning curves, but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it as hard or easy as it seems.”

“I think this year has really been different from the last two,” Parent said. “I think each year we keep getting better and better and we are such a young team. It’s been so fun just watching the freshmen adapt and see the sophomore and juniors grow. It’s been a really good growing year. I think St. Thomas women’s hockey is going to be very up and coming in the next few years and I can’t wait to be watching them win a national championship. That would be fun.”

As far as what has been the highlight of this reunion so far, both say it’s the bond that continues to grow between them, which is evident by their connection on the ice.

“I think every time Rachel gets the puck by the net, I’m standing on my feet because I’m waiting for her to score and there was a goal a few games ago where somebody tipped it and I thought she initially scored and I think I did a PR (personal record) vertical jump because I was so excited,” Parent said. “Just looking back and seeing her at D every time I go and take a faceoff is one of those little things that you never take for granted.”

“We were running a specific faceoff play in practice one day and Brieja came up to me and said ‘We’re gonna do Ranger’ and I was like ‘Yep, yep.’ And everyone else was like ‘What is Ranger?’ But that’s what we called it in high school,” Golnitz said. “It was the same play, but we called it Ranger. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I was like ‘You guys, it’s this’ and they were like ‘But that’s not what we call it.’ And we laughed and we told (UST assistant coach) Bethany (Brausen) about it and she giggled. It was a good time because it’s so weird how things just stick with you, and we were just right back in high school.”

Ryan started to enjoy hockey as a kid when he started playing roller hockey with his friends in their respective driveways. However, his enthusiasm started to grow more when the Minnesota Wild had their inaugural season in 2000 and fully blossomed when he was at the University of North Dakota and he started attending Fighting Sioux (now Fighting Hawks) games on a regular basis. He's a former sports writer for three previous newspapers, most recently with the Mining Journal in Marquette, Michigan, where he covered Northern Michigan hockey for seven years. He currently does freelance work as a sports reporter, operates his own hockey blog,, and is on a college hockey podcast called MNCAA. He also continues to watch and follow the Wild, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings and college hockey. You can follow him on Twitter/X @ryanstieg.

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