Brodt transfers to women’s hockey

Murali Balaji

Please excuse University women’s hockey coach Laura Halldorson if she raises the level of expectations for her team in just their second season of play.
She has her reasons. Winny Brodt, one of Minnesota’s most decorated female athletes and its most prolific women’s hockey player, is coming to play for the Gophers.
The Burnsville native starred last season as a defenseman for the University of New Hampshire, racking up 34 points in her first year of collegiate play. Brodt was MVP of the Women’s Collegiate Hockey Alliance national championship, won by New Hampshire.
Brodt, a former Ms. Hockey Award winner and two-time U.S. Junior National Team member, will be reunited with Halldorson, who was an assistant on the 1995 team that Brodt played for.
“I’m happy for Winny because I know how much it will mean to her to play in Minnesota,” Halldorson said. For Brodt, the feeling is mutual.
“It was always my first choice to play here because my friends and family are here,” she said.
A 1996 graduate of Roseville Area High School, Brodt said that she would have played for the University had there been a team here two years ago.
“She’s an awesome player,” sophomore defenseman Kelly Olson said. “She can feed the forwards and create a lot more space. She’s offensive-minded.”
With Brodt in the mix, the Gophers have upgraded their depth significantly. Halldorson emphasized that Brodt’s status as an accomplished star will not take away from the team’s 1998-99 plan.
“Winny is coming to us as a very good player, and she will be joining very good players,” she said. “Our goal is to gel together with the talent we have brought in.”
Halldorson mentioned defenseman Courtney Kennedy, a transfer from Colby College, as a player to look out for this year.
However, Brodt will garner most of the attention. Olson, a former high school teammate of Brodt, believes she will bring a presence both on and off the ice.
“You can always rely on her to come through,” Olson said of Brodt. “She’s always there when you make mistakes and will help you out.”
While Halldorson downplayed the expectation level of the team with the addition of Brodt, Olson was confident that the team will be better this season.
“I think the expectations might be a little bit higher,” she said. “You can’t get carried away, but I think we can play with anybody.”
In their inaugural season, the Gophers went 21-7-3 and advanced to the semifinals of the Women’s Collegiate Hockey Alliance championship. For Brodt, the chance to play in front of the hometown crowd as well as for a winning team was too good to pass up.
“I think we’re going to win a lot of games this year and go very far,” she said. “When I was at New Hampshire, this was the biggest team we faced.”
Brodt compared life in the Twin Cities to her experience in Durham, New Hampshire, where the college is located.
“The downtown was basically one street,” she said. “Here, I can go to Minneapolis, but Boston was one hour away there. We couldn’t really go because freshmen didn’t have cars.”
Brodt said that her adjustment to the University will be made easier by the fact that she will room with three of her new teammates. She also believes that the team will grow together because of their youth.
This year, the Gophers won’t take any opponent by surprise, but that’s just fine with Brodt.
“We’ll be a team to look out for this year,” Brodt said.