Saturday afternoon, former Minnesota Golden Gopher Hannah Brandt announced via Twitter that she had signed with the Minnesota Whitecaps.
Brandt is the second high-ranked 2015 NWHL draft pick to choose the Whitecaps over playing in the fledgling league; she will join Northeastern University graduate and Patty Kazmaier Award winner Kendall Coyne in Minnesota.
The Whitecaps do not pay their players, although they do provide transportation.
Sources close to the NWHL indicate Brandt was included in negotiations with the league as recently as early July, suggesting the decision was not an automatic one for her. Her college teammate and friend Amanda Kessel signed with the New York Riveters for $26,000, the largest deal the league has seen yet.
Brandt herself is a remarkable player. She co-captained the Golden Gophers her senior year alongside defender Lee Stecklein, leading the Gophers with 39 assists in 36 games. As a Gopher, she earned a total of 285 points (115 goals, 170 assists) over all four years and 158 games. While she played for Minnesota, they made the NCAA national championships every year and won the title three times. Her on-ice vision is only matched by her scoring ability, as is evidenced by the video below.
Brandt was a four-time Patty Kazmaier Award finalist (twice finishing with a top-10 nomination and twice in the top three) an award given to the best women’s college hockey player every year.
She was also named First Team All-American, All-WCHA First Team honoree, All-USCHO Second Team, and WCHA Preseason Player of the Year. Off the ice, Brandt earned the title of WCHA Scholar-Athlete, a spot on the WCHA All-Academic Team and was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
Brandt is also a forward for the U.S. Women’s National Team and has been in its development program since 2008. She has represented the U.S. in two International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships, winning gold in 2015 and silver in 2012. She also helped the U.S. to a second-place finish in the 2014 Four Nations Cup.
Brandt is a three-time member of the U.S. Women’s U-22 Select Team at the U-22 Series and won gold as a member of the U.S. Women’s National U-18 Team in the 2011 IIHF U-18 Women’s World Championship.
With players such as the Lamoureux twins, Anne Schleper, Jesse Vetter and now Kendall Coyne and Hannah Brandt, the Whitecaps will be a skilled and powerful team.