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Gopher Hockey Notebook: Hannah Brandt & Lee Stecklein named 2015-16 women's captains

The duo will lead Minnesota's title defense. Plus a former Gopher recovers from a kidney transplant and a bunch of commits get honored.

A now-dated and missing "C" photo of Minnesota defenseman Lee Stecklein
A now-dated and missing "C" photo of Minnesota defenseman Lee Stecklein
Eric Miller/Gopher Athletics

Rachel Ramsey spoke highly about the difference Lee Stecklein's leadership helped make during Minnesota's run to the 2015 national championship.

"Obviously when you get an Olympian back on the team it helps out on-ice and off-ice. She brings that confidence and that experience to the team,"the two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year said about Stecklein this past February. "It's why she's an assistant captain as a sophomore."

With Ramsey and fellow 2014-15 co-captain Rachael Bona both graduating from the Gophers, Stecklein and senior forward Hannah Brandt will take on a larger leadership role as the team looks to defend its third championship in four seasons. Minnesota head coach Brad Frost announced Wednesday that the pair have been named the team's captains for 2015-16.

"Hannah and Lee are great representatives of what Gopher women's hockey is all about," said Frost in a statement released by the University. "They fulfill and embody our values of being tough, grateful, disciplined and devoted. Our staff and players respect them and know that they will do an incredible job leading our team."

Centering Minnesota's top line, Brandt (Vandais Heights, MN) has been a top-three finalist the past 2 seasons for the Patti Kazmaier Award, given to the top player in Division 1 women's hockey. She contributes in all situations and has a nose for a net. Last season as a junior Brandt, the two-time reigning WCHA Player of the Year, led the Gophers in goals (30) and points (74), only having one stretch where she went multiple games without a point.

Besides being a captain for her senior seasons, Brandt is nearing elite company in the all-time record books. Brandt currently has the fifth-most career points by a Gopher with 221 career points (90G-131A). She trails all-time leader Natalie Darwitz by 25 and can pass her before the end of her career barring injury.

Stecklein (Roseville, MN) is the only returning letter wearer (in addition to Ramsey and Bona, alternate captain Meghan Lorence graduated). A member of the 2014 US Olympic team that won silver in Sochi, the redshirt junior played heavy minutes in a return to Dinkytown. College hockey doesn't have an official time on ice, but I wish it did in order to find out how long Stecklein plays. She finished with 27 points (5G-22A), including all 5 goals in the second half, en route to being named a second team All-American.

Both Brandt, who had 3 goals and 2 assists in 5 games, and Stecklein (along with junior Dani Cameranesi) participated in Team USA's gold medal win in the Women's World Championship last month in Malmo, Sweden.

Other notes:

Gophers great Pat Micheletti recovering from kidney transplant

Good to see Pat, who played for Minnesota from 1982 to 1986 and is second all-time in program history with 269 points, is doing well after undergoing surgery in Rochester yesterday.

Few people embody the spirit and generosity of hockey like Pat. It's always great to see him (and Alex, for that matter) around the rink and catch up. Best wishes and hope to see you soon.

Annual Academic Progress Report (APR) out

Both hockey teams maintained a score of 989 out of 1000 for 2010-14. Via College Hockey Inc, "The APR, created in 2003 to measure Division I schools and teams on their student-athletes' success in the classroom, awards points to teams based on students' grades, their progress toward their degree and for staying in school. Teams are also rewarded in the APR for students who return to school to complete their degree."

Men's hockey as a sport had the highest average APR (985), tying with fencing.

Mike Reilly wins bronze medal at Worlds

Reilly, as well as head coach and former Gopher Todd Richards, exceed any expectations given to the young squad at the World Championship in Czech Republic. Originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2011, the 21 year-old will be a free agent on June 15th and eligible to sign with any team on July 1st.

But first China.

Commit Corner: Romanko wins title, Schierhorn earns goalie award, Novak/Zuhlsdorf receive honors

An update to the last notebook where 3 Gopher men's commits were still playing for a championship. Only one, Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL) forward Darian Romanko, was successful winning it all. After winning 2-1 in the longest game in NAHL history, Romanko had an assist for the Wilderness in Game 2's 4-0 win over the Austin Bruins.

(Speaking of the Wilderness, Romanko's teammate Brock Kautz committed to the Gophers in the middle of writing this notebook. Will have more on that in a separate post.)

Fellow forward commit Jack Ramsey's Penticton Vees (BCHL) came within a game of playing for the Canadian Junior A championship, falling to Carleton Place 2-1 in double overtime. Goalie Eric Schierhorn's Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL), meanwhile, were swept in the championship best-of-five series by Sioux Falls. However, he did pick up a couple awards. Schierhorn was named both the Dave Peterson Goalie of the Year by USA Hockey and USHL Goaltender of the Year by USHL coaches and GMs. Schierhorn, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, finished his final junior season with a league-leading .927 save percentage (the sixth-highest in USHL history) while facing the most shots of any USHL goalie.

In addition to Schierhorn, two more Gopher commits - defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf and forward Tom Novak - also earned USHL honors. Zuhlsdorf (Sioux City) was named to the USHL All-Rookie First Team. Novak (Waterloo) was named to All-Rookie Second Team. Both are eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft.


Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --