Many consider the Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s hockey team a dynasty, something very rare in the sport today. The Gophers have a total of six national championships in their 18 seasons of existence, and have set many records along the way; including a 62 game winning streak that lasted from February 17, 2012 to November 17, 2013. To have such a rich and successful history, they have had some great players. Here, in my opinion, are the top five players that spent their college career with the Gopher women’s hockey team.
(In order from most recent to earliest)
Hannah Brandt started her career with the Gophers after being recruited from Hill-Murray High School, where she helped create a top-notch program. Brandt has played extremely well with the Gophers, clinching two national championships, and winning many individual awards along the way. Brandt has 221 career points in 122 games, and still has one season left with the Gophers. Outside of Gopher hockey, she was selected in the inaugural NWHL draft by the Connecticut Whale, and won the gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championships. Her senior season should be exciting for all fans to watch, as she has talent that not many players have, and could help the Gophers potentially win their third national championship in four years.
Many consider Amanda Kessel the best women’s hockey player in the world. Kessel, who began her career with the Gophers in the 2010-11 season, did nothing but impress fans while she was out on the ice. Although she only played three seasons with the Gophers due to injury, Kessel managed to total 231 points in just 114 games. This performance earned her the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2013, which is given to the best women’s player in college hockey. Kessel also proved her excellence with Team USA at the 2014 Olympics, when she helped capture the silver medal with her six points within the five games she played.
Noora Räty could be considered one of the best goaltenders of all-time in women’s hockey. The Finland native started her career with the Gophers in the 2009-10 season, and would rise to greatness immediately. She played excellent in her freshman and sophomore seasons, but would become even better during her junior and senior years. During her senior season, she posted an incredible feat, winning every game in which she played. Räty holds the career records of goaltender wins, shutouts, saves, and save percentage for the Gophers, and this excellent performance also earned her two national championships. Räty now plays professional hockey for Kiekko-Vantaa, and has also participated in the 2006 and 2010 Olympics for Finland.
Natalie Darwitz played three seasons with the Gophers, starting in 2002-03. During her time with the Gophers, she totaled 246 points, which still holds the program record today. Darwitz could not only score, but she was also gifted in her ability to set teammates up, as she holds the assist record with a total of 144 throughout her career. Her superior play helped the Gophers win back-to-back national championships in 2004 and 2005. Outside of the Gophers, she played in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Olympic games with Team USA, where they medaled each time.
Krissy Wendell played for the Gophers from 2002-05, and set many records while on the team. During her time with the Gophers, she recorded 237 points, falling second behind Natalie Darwitz on the program’s record list. Wendell won back-to-back national championships with the Gophers, alongside Natalie Darwitz. Her great performance during her years with the Gophers earned her the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2005, becoming the first player in program history to win this honor. Wendell also competed alongside Darwitz at the 2002 and 2006 Olympic games, where she medaled both times.