Reigning national champions talk depth, new additions at preseason press conference

Women's hockey head coach Brad Frost and captains discussed the outlook of this season's team Tuesday.

Gophers forward Dani Cameranesi moves the puck toward the net at Ridder Arena, Jan. 25, 2014.

Holly Peterson, Daily File Photo

Gophers forward Dani Cameranesi moves the puck toward the net at Ridder Arena, Jan. 25, 2014.

Tommy Sletten

The Gophers aren’t a team that has to rebuild, they reload.

The University of Minnesota women’s hockey team held its preseason press conference with head coach Brad Frost, captain and senior defender Lee Stecklein, and senior forwards and co-captains Dani Camerenesi and Kate Schipper. Coach Frost and the three captains looked back on their second consecutive national championship and shed light on the team to come this season.

Frost saw overall depth as a reason for success last year, as well as something the team possesses this year.

“I think our three lines were better than anybody else’s three lines last year,” Frost said. “And that proved itself over the course of the national tournament.”

Frost also touched on senior leadership from the likes of Stecklein, Camerenesi, and Schipper, as well as development of younger players as a key component for a possible three-peat.

Minnesota will have to do without last year’s starting goaltender Amanda Leveille, who was lost to graduation. Frost said she will likely be replaced by redshirt junior Sidney Peters, who “has been waiting very patiently” for the opportunity to start for the Gophers.

While a new goaltender can spell trouble for most teams, Stecklein feels confident in both Peters’ and the defense’s ability to step up. The blue line gets a threatening addition this year in freshman Patti Marshall, who is a reigning national champion as an alumna of Shattuck St. Mary’s and was a gold medalist with the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 team twice.

“I’d say I always feel like there’s always pressure on the defense, and I don’t think that changes with who’s in net,” Stecklein said. “I know we trust Sid completely, and getting the chance in practice to work with her and figure out what she needs from us so that we can give her her best shot.”

Despite big losses in program staples like Amanda Kessel and Hannah Brandt, Camerenesi, the leading goal and point scorer from last season returns, and is poised for another stellar season. Camerenesi pointed to depth yet again when asked about whether or not teams would be keying in on her, and how that effects game plans for either side.

“I don’t think it changes anything for me, or for other teams. Because we have such a well-rounded team that you have to focus on everyone, you can’t really just focus on one person,” Camerenesi said.

Minnesota has some exciting gets in the offensive department as well, including WCHA Preseason Co-Rookie of the Year Lindsey Agnew and 2015 USA Today Second Team All-American Alex Woken.

Minnesota opens up the preseason with an exhibition game against the Minnesota Whitecaps, whose roster hosts Gophers alums like Hannah Brandt, Rachael Bona and Meghan Lorence Friday, and begin the regular season at home against Lindenwood September 30th.