Minnesota keeps top lines intact

Head coach Brad Frost hasn’t tinkered with his lines too much.

Grant Donald

For a majority of the season, head coach Brad Frost has used the, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to setting his lines before each game.

With the exception of a handful of games, Frost hasn’t changed Minnesota’s top three lines.

“Early on, we are always trying to figure out the best combinations of players,” Frost said. “Fortunately, for the last month or two, we haven’t changed the lines up one bit. Every line seems to be clicking.”

The Gophers’ top line features two of the nation’s top scorers: junior Hannah Brandt, sophomore Dani Cameranesi, along with junior Maryanne Menefee.

Brandt and Menefee have been playing with each other since they both arrived on campus as freshmen.

“[Maryanne and I] kind of know where each other [are] on the ice at all times,” Brandt said. “With Dani, I have only played with her this year, but with her skill, it was pretty easy to figure out how to play with her.”

The Gophers trio has combined to score 133 points on the season and also carried the team through the early part of the schedule when Minnesota’s secondary scoring was lacking.

It wasn’t lacking for long, though, as the Gophers’ second line emerged as a viable scoring option, even carrying the team itself during a couple of games.

Seniors Rachael Bona and Meghan Lorence bring speed and quickness to the line, while freshman Kelly Pannek is the distributor of the group, picking up 24 assists thus far.

“Speed isn’t necessarily one of my strengths, but because [Lorence and Bona] are so fast, it kind of balances it out,” Pannek said. “I don’t think I would be having the same success this year without them.”

But for Pannek, it wasn’t always as easy as it seems.

She leaned heavily on her older line mates’ experience to learn how the college game should be played.

“As a freshman coming in, you are just trying to find your place and role on the team,” Pannek said. “Whenever you find two people that you really click with, you learn their tendencies, and it helps me out so much.”

Even Minnesota’s third line has fallen into a sense of normality with junior Brook Garzone paired with freshman Cara Piazza and sophomore Kate Schipper.

“Our third line is what we like to call our grind line,” Frost said. “They get after it and really pressure the opponent. And then they will chip their goals in when they get their opportunities.”

Combine all three lines, and the Gophers come away with the second-ranked offense in the nation and a main reason why they’re rolling as of late.

“Every line has someone who likes to distribute the puck … and people who can put the puck in the net,” Frost said. “If they know their roles and are comfortable with their line mates, they are going to experience success.”