As Hannah Brandt rewrites the record books for women’s hockey, there appears to be one person who could care less right now about her achievements:
The senior with the Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey team is on the cusp of greatness at so many levels, but her skates never seem to leave the ice.
She apologetically calls back 40 minutes late for a scheduled interview, 10 minutes before practice, because she got the chance to get some extra skating in with some friends and teammates. She is quick to quip that she thinks about her individual statistics “only when people like you ask me about them.”
She's not being facetious, either. A few minutes with her and you quickly learn she could teach a class in Humility 101. Her focus is hockey, hockey, hockey. Individual statistics be damned.
Asked if she remembers how her career started as a freshman at Minnesota, Brandt said one statistic comes to mind: “We were 41-0,” she said. “That’ll probably never be done again. Our league is so competitive now anyone can beat you on a given night.”
She’s probably right, but the top-ranked and defending national champion Gophers are 6-0 and have already outscored Ohio State, Penn State and St. Cloud State by a 43-4 margin.
Minnesota is loaded once again with talent and it starts with Brandt and her DASH line teammates. DASH, as in junior Dani Cameranesi, freshman Sarah Potomak and Brandt. The trio combined for 15 points in Saturday’s 11-2 rout of Ohio State. Each season Brandt gives her line a nickname and they open each period with a quick cheer.
“It’s just something I’ve always done,” Brandt said. “We use the first letter of our first or last name to bring it together.”
Another nickname for the line could have been “Heir Apparents,” because both Cameranesi and Potomak are regarded as two of the top players in women’s college hockey. Cameranesi, like Brandt, was a Minnesota Ms. Hockey award winner coming out of Blake School in 2013 and the National Rookie of the Year as a college freshman. Last season she was a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, ranking fourth in the nation with 23 goals and 42 assists.
Potomak, who had back-to-back four-assist games against Ohio State last weekend, is regarded as the top freshman recruit in the country. She starred on Canada’s Under-18 gold-medal winning team at the 2014 IHF Women’s World Championship and led the 2015 team that took home silver in tournament scoring with five points and four assists.
The reluctant star, however, remains the unassuming Brandt.
“Hannah is unbelievable,” Potomak said. “She never talks about what she’s accomplished; she’s all about the team. I did know before the first game that she had scored a hat trick in her first game, but not because she told me. I was told a few times by others. I don’t know if anyone can live up to what she’s done.”
Potomak is often told of Brandt’s achievements because the senior and freshman see the ice in similar ways and play similar games. But Potomak said matching Brandt’s achievements would be a significant feat.
- Is a three-time finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the top female college hockey player.
- She entered the season with 221 career points, just 82 behind NCAA all-time scoring leader Meghan Agosta, who scored 303 from 2006-2011 at Mercyhurst. If Brandt matches her freshman total of 82 points (33 goals, 49 assists, school record for freshman) she will tie Agosta.
- Her 90 goals and 131 assists entering this season make her the NCAA’s active career scoring leader.
- Through six games she has nine goals and six assists, including three goals and three assists against Ohio State.
- Her 234 career points leave her 12 behind the school’s all-time leading scorer Natalie Darwitz’s 246 points (102 goals, 144 assists in 99 games from 2002-2005).
There are more accolades, but you get hint. She remains irked that her sophomore team didn’t win the national title, but it’s helped fuel her fire for a third in four years.
Meantime, she doesn’t dwell on her individual success. She says she isn’t sure if she would have believed it if someone had given her a stats sheet at the start of her freshman season and said “This is what you’ll accomplish by the time you’re a senior.”
“I probably would have thought they were joking,” she said. “It just shows that I’ve gotten to play with a lot of great players. That really explains the success I’ve had. It’s not individual.”
Above: Minnesota's Hannah Brandt is the fire behind the Gophers' domination on the ice. (Courtesy Eric Miller/Gopher Athletics)