Gracing the ice for the last four seasons with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, with an unmistakable smile off the ice that cannot hide her love for the game, Hannah Brandt’s legacy as one of the greatest female players in the State of Hockey is indisputable. Bringing exuberance and world-class skills, it made Brandt an ideal fit for the Minnesota Whitecaps.
For more than a decade, the quality of players from the world over that has suited up for the Whitecaps reads like a dream team. Taking into account Brandt’s body of work, highlighted by the Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award, All-America honors, All-WCHA Academic Team recognition, three NCAA Frozen Four titles and a gold medal at the IIHF Women’s Worlds, the chance to become the newest member of the Whitecaps and extend her distinguished career in her home state, represents a proud new chapter for the highly talented Brandt,
“It is really nice to be able to continue playing hockey with the Minnesota Whitecaps because we get to represent the state of Minnesota and play with many of the same people that grew up playing with. Getting to continue playing in Minnesota is also nice because it allows family and friends to continue watching games even if there aren't as many as when I was at the University of Minnesota.”
Joining Brandt among the new faces with the Whitecaps this season is another prodigious player. Having captured the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award in her senior season at Northeastern, Kendall Coyne, who was raised in Illinois, was also welcomed into the Whitecaps fold. Of note, Coyne has skated alongside Brandt in Team USA’s gold medal winning effort at the 2015 IIHF Women’s Worlds. In addition to being teammates on the Whitecaps, the two shall also don the USA colors once again, as two of eight Whitecaps members named to compete at the 2016 Four Nations Cup.
Both provided solid results, making key contributions in a September 25 contest against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Brandt scored twice while Coyne and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson each recorded a pair of assists in a hard fought 5-4 loss.
Such a match must have proven highly visceral for Brandt. Just one season earlier, it was Brandt who would score twice against the Whitecaps on September 23, 2015, while wearing Golden Gophers colors. Coincidentally, such a match would also result in a 5-4 victory for the Golden Gophers.
Considering that both matches took place at Ridder Arena, the venue that has seen so many of Brandt’s glories, returning with the Whitecaps represented both an athletic and emotional transition. Considering that Brandt graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 285 career points, the return to Ridder Arena was highly fitting for Brandt (her home rink for the last four seasons), as it marked a special chance for Gophers fans to appreciate her brilliance.
“It was an odd feeling back at Ridder Arena but being the away team. Everything just felt weird like being on the other bench, using a visiting locker room, and not being the team the majority of the fans there wanted to win. Overall it was a great experience and a super exciting game.”
As Brandt embarks on the opportunity to add to the Whitecaps growing legacy of world-class hockey talent, a special highlight is the chance to call several hockey legends teammates for the first time. Among them are Jenny Schmidgall-Potter, the only American-born player to have won the rare grand slam in women’s hockey, Winter Games gold, IIHF gold, the NCAA Frozen Four and the Clarkson Cup.
Among Brandt’s newest teammates is one that truly brings her hockey odyssey full circle. During her formative years, a positive influence on her approach to the game involved the incomparable Winny Brodt. In addition to being a charter member of the Whitecaps, Brodt is an exceptional instructor and coach. Of note, Brandt enjoyed the privilege of being coached by Brodt, who also shares in the legacy of having won the Ms. Hockey Award, the first-ever in fact.
“I have played with so many of the Whitecaps players throughout the years so not many of them are new teammates to me, but it is fun to officially be teammates with people like Winny Brodt, who coached me growing up and who has always been such a role model to me.”
Prior to joining the Whitecaps, Brandt also experienced another special milestone. Having won three Frozen Four titles in four seasons (2013, 2015, 2016, including a finals appearance in 2014), Brandt and her teammates were invited each time as honored guests of Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins.
Getting the opportunity to step onto the playing surface at Target Field each time, with the Frozen Four championship proudly in tow, it was a special privilege that only enhanced the prestige of attaining a remarkable prize in women’s hockey. For Brandt, the 2016 pre-game celebration brought with it an additional honor.
As with other previous ceremonies with the Twins, a member of the Golden Gophers participated in the pre-game opening pitch, a ceremony as coveted as participating in the opening faceoff of a hockey game, and as obligatory to baseball as the grass the game is played on. This year, Brandt was bestowed the honor of taking to the pitcher’s mound and participating in the opening pitch ceremony, proudly donning a Twins journey with her name and trademark number 22 adorning the back of said jersey.
“The actual throw was pretty bad but the experience was awesome. I wish I would have practiced a bit prior to getting out there, but I think my whole team enjoyed getting honored by the Twins and getting to go out on the field.”
"All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated"