The University of Minnesota Women's Hockey team has cruised through their first six games of the season with a 6-0 record, and are outscoring their opponents 43-4. Yeah...they are good. The Gophers have dominated all their opponents this season, and are getting scoring from all corners of their roster. Most notably, the Gophers are dominating teams with their first line, senior center Hanna Brandt, junior wing Dani Cameranesi, and freshman wing Sarah Potomak. Brandt has 15 points on the season, good enough for third in the NCAA so far. However, she is getting surpassed by Potomak who has 17 points this season which leads the NCAA. Her 14 total assists this season also leads the NCAA. Oh...she has played just six collegiate games in her career. Nice little start. In addition, she has turned those six games into back to back weekends of being named the WCHA Rookie of the Week.
Brandt was named the WCHA player of the Week last weekend after tallying eight points in a sweep of Ohio State in Columbus. That included six points in the Saturday finale, with a hat trick of both goals and assists. Brandt is scoring on an even faster pace then expected this season, and by doing so is coming up very quickly on a number of historic milestones in both Gopher history, and NCAA Hockey history. There was no doubt Brandt was going to set these records at some point this season...but to have a chance to do so before October comes to a close is very impressive.
Lets start from the most likely to fall this weekend and work our way out into the future. By virtue of her three goals last Saturday, Brandt now sits at 99 in her career. Her next goal will let her eclipse the 100 goal mark, something that only three other Gopher players in history have done. In fact, with a good weekend, Brandt could find herself third all-time on the Gopher goal scoring list as Natalie Darwitz sits at 102. Krissy Wendell is not much further ahead at 106. Brandt should easily pass both before the end of 2015, much less the season. The big target looming ahead will be the 139 total of current Gopher assistant Nadine Muzerall. Brandt needs only 40 more goals, which at the beginning of the season looked like a long shot....now that goal appears much more obtainable.
But that's not the only record Brandt has in her sights. Brandt has 137 assists in her career so far, which is just seven behind Darwitz's 144 for the all-time Gopher career record. There's more. Brandt currently has 236 career points. That ranks third in Gopher history, and 12th all-time in NCAA history. With Brandt's next point, she will tie Wendell with 237 for 2nd all time, and she only trails Darwitz by 10 points. With a very successful weekend, she could potentially break the record on Saturday against UMD. That's a long shot, but Hannah Brandt will have a very good chance at becoming the Minnesota Gophers all-time leading scorer in Grand Forks next Thursday or Friday night.
When Brandt passes Darwitz, she will jump into 7th all-time in NCAA scoring. From there the milestones get tougher and tougher to achieve, but if she continues on her current pace, she will jump ahead of several of the most recognizable named in Women's hockey history. You may have heard of Hillary Knight, #6 on the list with 262 points. Next up would be the first of the two Lamoureux sisters, Monique with 265. Harvard's Nicole Corriero also has 265 points. Tied for #2 on the list would be the other Lamoureax sister, Jocelyne and probably one of the most famous women's players of all time in Harvard's Julie Chu with 285 points. It would take an epic season, one that would guarantee her the Patty Kazmaier Award she so richly deserves, but if Brandt can score another 67 points this season, she would reach the current #1 on the list, Mercyhurt's Megan Agosta.
So not only do the Gophers want to continue to reach for team success this season but they can add the extra goal of seeing one of their teammates on a quest for glory as as one of the top scoring players in NCAA Hockey history. Not too shabby.
Brandt isn't the only Gopher who will be looking to set milestones in the very near future. Senior defenseman Milica McMillen has 98 career points, and with two more will become just the sixth Gopher defenseman all time to eclipse the 100-point mark. The Gophers will look to continue to build on their current 19-game home unbeaten streak, and see if they can get senior goalie Amanda Leveille another shutout to give her 25 for her career and move her into a tie for 6th all-time in NCAA History.
In case you feel like seeing history in the making, the Gophers will celebrate Rivalry History Day on Friday night at 6 as UMD comes to town. Fans are invited to immerse themselves in over 15 years of Gophers vs. Bulldogs rivalry, reliving historic moments and testing their knowledge with trivia questions. The Gophers and Bulldogs will finish the series Saturday afternoon at 4. Minnesota has had the Bulldog's number lately as Minnesota is 14-0-1 in their last 15 against UMD.
The Bulldogs are led by new coach Maura Crowell who came to UMD after they let Shannon Miller go after last season. Crowell has seen the Gophers plenty, most notably last season as an assistant on NCAA runner-up Harvard. She has her Bulldogs are off to a 4-4 start so far this season, but just 2-2 in the WCHA. UMD swept bottom-dweller Minnesota State, and are coming in after being swept by Bemidji State last weekend.
If you have never been to a Gopher Women's game, this year would be the year to do it. Gopher coach Brad Frost has his team clicking on all cylinders, and the Gophers look primed to make another very serious run at another NCAA Title. The action is non-stop, and while checking is illegal, you will see plenty of physical hockey. Good luck to the Gophers this weekend, and hopefully very soon history will be made in the maroon and gold!