Kessel is all about the goals for Gophers' women's hockey


Amanda Kessel of the Gophers undefeated women's hockey team, is the nation's leading scorer going into the NCAA women's hockey tournament.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Gophers men’s hockey team suffered a setback in 2006, when Phil Kessel left for the NHL after one college season.

But for the Gophers women’s team, a crucial seed had been planted.

Younger sister Amanda Kessel was playing for the Madison (Wis.) Capitols boys’ bantam team that year and became a Minnesota fan. She continued attending Gophers games while piling up hundreds of points the next three years at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault. When it came time to pick a college, Kessel had even more reasons to choose Wisconsin than her brother did.

The Badgers had a better women’s program than the Gophers, at the time. And Wisconsin’s coach, Mark Johnson, was one of her father’s childhood friends.

Yet she still picked Minnesota.

“I always knew in my heart I wanted to come here,” Kessel said.

Kessel was determined to help turn the Gophers back into a national powerhouse.

Last year, she helped deliver the team’s first NCAA title since 2005, and she has battled through injuries this season to lead the nation in goals (43) and assists (52).

The junior winger is a major reason Minnesota (38-0) is riding a 46-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s NCAA quarterfinal against North Dakota (26-11-1).

The three finalists for this year’s Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the nation’s top player, are all Gophers — Kessel, goaltender Noora Raty and defenseman Megan Bozek.

“Amanda Kessel has got to be the front-runner because it’s off the charts for her,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said last month. “She’s such a dynamic player.”

Stone will coach Team USA at the 2014 Olympics, and Kessel and Bozek have been named to the preliminary roster.

Raty, a two-time Olympian from Finland, predicts Kessel will establish herself in Sochi as one of the best players in the world.

“Just her speed — that’s what separates her from other players,” Raty said. “I haven’t seen many other players who have good speed and good hands, but she has both.”

Born to skate Kessel said she can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t love being at the rink. She was 3 when she started skating and joined her first Madison mites boys’ team at age 4.

“I think the main thing was just trying to keep up with her older brothers,” said her father, Phil Kessel Sr., a former quarterback in the Canadian Football League.

Phil Jr. has blossomed into an NHL All-Star who notched 37 goals and 45 assists last year for the Maple Leafs. The middle brother, Blake, went to New Hampshire and is now a defenseman for Trenton in the ECHL.

While the youngest Kessel was in high school, the Wisconsin women’s program won NCAA titles in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Washington 0
Pittsburgh 7 FINAL
Detroit 3
Miami 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Boston - WP: K. Couch 11 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Reavis 8
NY Yankees - LP: M. Tanaka 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: T. Milone 3
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Philadelphia 6 FINAL
Toronto 10
Chicago Cubs 15 FINAL
Texas 10
Cincinnati - WP: M. Lorenzen 10 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Chicago WSox 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 1
Seattle 6 FINAL
Cleveland 8
Oakland - WP: J. Fuller 13 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: B. Loconsole 10
Texas 7 FINAL
Arizona 8
Houston 8 FINAL
Atlanta 5
Kansas City 9:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 95 FINAL
Detroit 105
Indiana 95 4th Qtr 2:59
Brooklyn 103
San Antonio 61 3rd Qtr 6:44
Miami 52
Golden State 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 3
Carolina 2 FINAL
Washington 4
Florida 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Ottawa 0 3rd Prd 7:45
Detroit 1
Tampa Bay 1 3rd Prd 5:31
Toronto 3
NY Rangers 2 3rd Prd
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 2 3rd Prd
Nashville 3
UT Martin 66 FINAL
Evansville 79
Miami-Florida 60 FINAL
Temple 57
NJIT 33 1st Half 0:50
Northern Ariz 26
Stanford 20 1st Half 13:06
Old Dominion 3
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who are you rooting for in the NCAA Final Four?

Weekly Question