Not since Meghan Agosta debuted with the Mercyhurst Lakers in the autumn of 2006 has a rookie phenom captured the hearts and minds of NCAA hockey fans.
Hannah Brandt is on pace to shatter numerous Minnesota Golden Gophers and NCAA freshman scoring marks. Through the first 20 games of the season, Brandt accumulated a staggering 48 points (averaging 2.40 points per game).
While Brandt benefits from superb talent like Amanda Kessel on offense, Megan Bozek on defense and All-World goaltender Noora Raty between the pipes, Brandt is the catalyst for the Gophers' super season. Through the first two months of the season, three records have been shattered.
Noora Raty became the Golden Gophers' all-time winningest goaltender and is on pace to eclipse the all-time NCAA mark set by Hillary Pattenden.
Within a space of one week, the Maroon and Gold tied the NCAA record for most consecutive wins and most consecutive road wins. Had Brandt not been a member of the squad, these marks would never have been accomplished.
Similar to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, Brandt is a once in a lifetime talent who has the remarkable ability to make those around her even better. Although Kessel and Bozek are superb players that represent the future of USA Hockey, there is no question that they are on pace to have career highs in numerous statistical categories due to Brandt.
There is an electrifying excitement when Brandt takes to the ice, because fans cannot help but anticipate what magic she is capable of.
The Golden Gophers performance against a highly-touted Wisconsin Badgers squad has solidified their standing as the top-ranked team in the NCAA. More importantly, it has reinforced the idea that Brandt is worthy of becoming the first freshman hockey player to win the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award.
Their success against their most intense rival (Wisconsin) was clearly attributed to Brandt’s presence. Although players such as Christine Bestland (Mercyhurst), Jamie Lee Rattray (Clarkson), Brianne Jenner (Cornell) and the Lamoureux sisters (North Dakota) would be considered worthy of the award in any other season, this season belongs to Brandt.