USA Hockey Invites 8 Gophers to Olympic Residency Program

A new program created by USA Hockey, the training program will start this October, operating out of the SuperRink in Blaine.

Gophers forward Hannah Brandt drives the puck Saturday at the 2016 WCHA Final Face-off Semifinal game at Ridder Arena. Minnesota defeated No. 8 seed North Dakota 2-0 to advance to the championship game.

Sam Harper, Daily File Photo

Gophers forward Hannah Brandt drives the puck Saturday at the 2016 WCHA Final Face-off Semifinal game at Ridder Arena. Minnesota defeated No. 8 seed North Dakota 2-0 to advance to the championship game.

Allie Dullum

Announced earlier this month, USA Hockey invited 27 players to participate in pre-Olympic training in their new U.S. Women’s National Team Residency Program.

Of the 27, eight were current or former players from the University of Minnesota.

Among the eight are Gophers alumni Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Amanda Kessel, Kelly Pannek, Lee Stecklein, Megan Bozek and Grace Zumwinkle. Current Gophers sophomore forward Abbey Murphy was also selected.

Of these eight players, six represented the United States in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, winning gold against Canada. Bozek, 30, did not compete for Team USA in 2018 but won a silver medal with Team USA in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The women’s hockey program at Minnesota has a long history of developing top players, many of whom go on to find professional or Olympic success after their college careers. In his role as head coach, Frost has trained many of them.

“They are incredible people first and foremost, but as they have proven, they are world class players,” Frost said in an email to the Daily. “The majority of the players in our program have a dream of playing for their country in the Olympics, and this is the first step for these eight. We wish them all the best!”

The U.S. Women’s National Team Residency Program will commence in October in Blaine, Minnesota, just 20 minutes from the Gophers’ home ice. According to USA Hockey, the program is a key component of their efforts in preparing athletes for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

Little information on the resident aspect of the Residency Program is available, as there is no mention of established accommodations for the players chosen for the program on the organization’s website. The exact duration beyond the October start date is also not specified.

Unique to the women’s side of USA Hockey, the program seeks to prepare potential Olympians by “centralizing a group of players to train and play together in the months leading up to the Games.” The program offers an opportunity for women players to regroup and train together after major disruptions to international and professional competition due to the pandemic.

Unlike men’s players seeking to make their Olympic roster — who enjoyed two nearly-full seasons of NHL play during the pandemic — consistent training was hard to come by for female players.

As part of the program, the players will have a chance to compete in a series of games, with dates expected to be announced near the start of the program.