Kessel faces hometown team with less pressure after national title

by Betsy Helfand

Junior forward Amanda Kessel is the only member of the Gophers women’s hockey team from Wisconsin.

Kessel hails from Madison, Wis., and grew up a Badgers fan, but she has since changed her shade of red.

She has played against her hometown team for two straight years, and she said she’s less nervous for the games this season.

She said winning the national championship with the Gophers last year removed a little bit of the pressure.

Her college decision came down to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Cornell, and if she hadn’t attended high school in Minnesota, Kessel said she might not have ended up with the Gophers.

Kessel attended Shattuck-St. Mary’s High School, a noted hockey prep school in Faribault, Minn.

Her oldest brother, NHL All-Star Phil Kessel, played for Minnesota for a year. But she said if either of her brothers had attended Wisconsin, “it maybe would have been different.”

“When I was in high school, I came here to watch Gopher games,” Kessel said. “When I was younger, I’d be at Wisconsin sporting events, so I kind of just changed my teams over time.”

Kessel is the nation’s leading goal-scorer with 20 goals in 15 games. She also leads the nation with 45 points.

“I kind of consider myself more of a Minnesotan now,” Kessel said.