Coming off a national title-winning season and three straight conference titles, the Golden Gophers’s women’s hockey team is considered the favorite to win the WCHA this year. In a preseason poll of the conference’s eight head coaches, the Gopher women got six first-place votes and 48 total points in results the WCHA announced on Tuesday.
Two players also got preseason acknowledgement from the WCHA on Tuesday. Senior forward Hannah Brandt was named preseason Player of the Year, for the third straight year, and freshman forward Sarah Potomak was named the conference’s preseason Rookie of the Year.
Brandt has had a stellar career for the Gophers, with 90 goals and 131 assists over her first three seasons. She needs just 25 points to tie Natalie Darwitz (102 goals and 144 assists) as Minnesota’s all-time points leader, so barring a significant injury Brandt will easily finish her career as the all-time leading scorer in the history of Gophers’ women’s hockey. Brandt is also a Gophers’ captain for this year, along with junior forward (and 2014 United States Olympian) Lee Stecklein.
Potomak was a member of Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 team, winning two medals at the IIHF Women’s World Junior Championships in 2014 and 2015. She was named the tournament’s top forward and most valuable player in 2015, after scoring nine points (four goals and five assists) during Team Canada’s run to a silver medal.
The Gophers’ women will open the 2015-16 regular season on the road against Penn State on Thursday Oct. 1, and the home opener at Ridder Arena will be Friday Oct. 9 against St. Cloud State.
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