Last week's quick hits discussed several Gopher men wearing the red, white and blue sweater of America. This time around it's the women who are in the international spotlight prior to opening the season October 3rd at home against Penn State.
Four current members of the Gopher women's hockey team are among the 22 players named Monday to the United States Under-22 select team. Junior forward Hannah Brandt, sophomore forward Dani Cameranesi, junior defenseman Milica McMillen and redshirt sophomore defenseman Lee Stecklein will play against Canada's best under-22s over three games August 21-24 in Calgary.
All three games can be seen online at FASThockey.com
Stecklein, one of three American players from Sochi participating, returns to Minnesota after spending last season winning a silver medal with the US Olympic team.
Two others - senior forward Rachael Bona and incoming freshman forward Cara Piazza - attended the 2014 USA Hockey Women's National Festival. Piazza, a native of Darien, Illinois (20 miles west of Chicago), joins the Gophers after skating with the 2013 US Under-18 team.
In addition to the four current Gophers, five future Minnesota women's players will take part in three Under-18 games between the United States and Canada going on in Calgary at the same time. Sarah Potomak is on the Canadian roster. 15 year-old goalie Alex Gulstene, Patricia Marshall, Sophie Skarzynski and Alex Woken play for the United States, which will be coached by Gopher associate head coach Joel Johnson. (Some guy named Robb Stauber will be coaching the goaltenders.)
-Besides the Thief River Falls native Marshall, six other Minnesotans are on the U-18 roster - Grace Bizal (Minnetonka), Grace Bowlby (Edina), Presley Norby (Shorewood), Sophia Shaver (Wayzata), Natalie Snodgrass (Eagan), and Mekenzie Steffen (White Bear Township).
-Minnesota officially announced Mitch Rogge walking on to the men's team.
-Recently graduated Gopher Nate Condon did not sign with Colorado before August 15th and became a free agent. Condon had 25 points (9G-16A) his senior year in 41 games - including becoming the 81st player in team history to reach 100 points - mostly playing with freshmen Justin Kloos and Taylor Cammarata. The 24 year-old, who served as a co-captain for Minnesota last season, was a 7th round pick (200th overall) of the Avalanche in 2008. He is now free to sign anywhere.
-All 3 Minnesota commits came back from Europe with podium finishes. Tommy Novak (formerly St. Thomas Academy and now Waterloo - USHL) returns from the Czech Republic raising his 2015 draft stock after leading the U-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament with 11 points (5G-6A) over 5 games. Team USA defeated Switzerland 5-4 in OT to finish third; bouncing back following an 11-5 loss to eventual winner Canada in the semifinals.
Defenseman Sam Rossini (Waterloo) and goalie Ryan Edquist (Lakeville North, MN-HS) end their trip to Germany with a second place in the U17 5 Nations tournament. The American went 3-1 in four games with a 2-0 loss to Czech Republic - a game where Edquist stopped 26 of 27 shots - being the difference between gold and silver. Rossini had 3 points (1G-2A) during the 5 Nations tournament.
-Lastly, the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS awareness has been sweeping social media and society. It's huge. I even saw a group of people participating while being out and about. (For those counting at home, that's half as many non-sporting venue marriage proposals this year.) The college hockey universe is no different. Head coach Don Lucia, up in Alaska, assistant Grant Potulny and associate head coach Mike Guentzel each took part.
Several other current and former Gophers from Erik Haula to Lou Nanne to Seth Ambroz have also taken part. Honestly, at this point looking at videos of people dumping ice water on their head could be a weird full time job. I just want to see how it ends up on a resume.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate