Minnesota Whitecaps add 2 more Gopher alum

Published 4:24 pm Sunday, July 1, 2018

University of Minnesota alumnae and 2018 Olympic gold medalists Hannah Brandt and Lee Stecklein have signed contracts to play for the Minnesota Whitecaps in 2018-19, the National Women’s Hockey League announced Wednesday. Both Gopher alums will make their NWHL debuts next season.

Brandt and Stecklein join fellow Gopher alumna Amanda Leveille to make up the first three players to sign with the Whitecaps for the 2018-19 season. Dani Cameranesi (Buffalo Beauts) and Amanda Kessel (Metropolitan Riveters) have also signed to play in the NWHL for the upcoming season.

“This is an exciting opportunity to be part of the Whitecaps’ inaugural season in the NWHL,” Brandt said in a statement issued by the NWHL. “It’s already an incredible organization and hopefully we can take it to another level. Women’s hockey in Minnesota gets bigger every year, and I look forward to seeing the impact a women’s professional team will have. I hope to see many young girls in the stands who dream of playing pro hockey. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to inspire future generations of players.”

Email newsletter signup

“I’m really proud to join the NWHL as part of the Whitecaps, an organization with a long and rich history in the state of Minnesota,” Stecklein said in a statement issued by the NWHL. “It’s particularly gratifying to be part of this with the Brodt family, who have had a huge impact on my playing career. It would be great to win the Isobel Cup for Minnesota.”

In addition to helping lead the U.S. Olympic Team to the gold medal in February, Brandt and Stecklein won three NCAA national championships with the Gophers in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Both collected three All-America accolades during their time with the Maroon & Gold.

Brandt wrapped up her college career as Minnesota’s all-time career scoring leader with 286 points (115g-170a) from 2012-13 to 2015-16. She remains the Gophers’ only four-time Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award finalist in program history and is the only Minnesota player to have earned three First Team All-America awards. A four-time All-WCHA honoree, Brandt led the Gophers to NCAA titles in 2013, 2015, and 2016, and the team finished as NCAA runners-up in 2014.

Stecklein also had one of the most decorated careers in Gopher history. She was a three-time All-American, a three-time NCAA national champion, and a three-time team captain for the Gophers during her five-year career. The recipient of many individual athletic accolades, Stecklein is most notably a three-time AHCA/CCM All-American and All-WCHA First Team selection. She wrapped up her Gopher career ranked seventh in scoring among all-time Gopher defense with 93 career points. A 2014 Olympic silver medalist, Stecklein joined Brandt in earning gold with Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Prior to the NWHL’s expansion to Minnesota, Brandt was selected second overall by Connecticut in the 2015 NWHL Draft, while Stecklein was taken second overall by Buffalo in 2016. Brandt spent the 2016-17 season playing for the Minnesota Whitecaps.