Hannah Brandt has multiple reasons to feel snubbed and extra motivated heading into Sunday’s national championship game against Harvard. But the rest of the Gophers say Brandt is too team-oriented to make this about her.
After racking up 82 points as a freshman, Brandt was one of the early cuts from the U.S. Olympic team in June 2013. The coach was Harvard’s Katey Stone.
“That was the hardest part of the job, honestly,” Stone said Saturday. “Hannah is a fantastic individual, and that makes it even harder. At that point, we had a pretty seasoned roster.
“Her skating has improved dramatically. She’s polished her game.
“She’s always been a threat with the puck, but she has become much more threatening off the puck. It’s awesome to see. She has an incredibly bright future.”
Brandt said she isn’t treating this game as a chance to prove something to Stone.
“That could be a story line for people to talk about, but for me, it’s not about that at all,” Brandt said. “It’s just about playing my best game of the year for this team and this program and all the fans that are going to be there supporting us.”
Brandt has been one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award the past two years.
The award, given to the nation’s top player, went to Clarkson’s Jamie Lee Rattray last year.
Saturday it went to Boston College’s Alex Carpenter, who led the nation with 37 goals and 44 assists.
Brandt, who had a goal and two assists in Friday’s 3-1 win over Wisconsin, has 33 goals and 40 assists.
Gophers coach Brad Frost firmly believes Brandt will be an Olympian in 2018. And as for the Kazmaier Award?
“There is hardly any disappointment in her right now,” Frost said. “She just wants to focus now on [Sunday].”
• Harvard senior Hillary Crowe, who grew up in Eden Prairie and played for Blake, said she’ll have about 50 friends and family members at the championship game.
• Stone on what Crowe and Edina native Samantha Reber have meant to the Crimson: “Well, they are the nicest kids on the team. … They’ve been great people, great players and great leaders for our program.”