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Minnesota Women’s Hockey’s Annual Senior Celebration

Friday night the University of Minnesota Gopher Women’s Hockey team honored their graduating seniors.

Top: Dani Cameranesi, Kate Schipper, Bethany Brausen, Shannon Johnson. Bottom: Brad Frost, Dayna Frost, Lee Stecklein, Paige Haley, Kelsey Cline, Megan Wolfe, Joel Johnson.
Cat Lenander

Once again the regular season in women’s hockey comes to a close and the start of the hectic postseason, when teams battle for championships and bragging rights, rapidly approaches. However, before the frenzy begins the Minnesota Gopher Women’s Hockey team likes to take an evening to celebrate their seniors’ accomplishments and contributions to the team. They do this with the Senior Celebration, an annual dinner that highlights the graduating class with their teammates, families, and fans in attendance. This year’s Senior Celebration occurred on February 17th, 2017, the eve of the Gopher’s final home series of the season, to honor six women: Dani Cameranesi, Kelsey Cline, Paige Haley, Kate Schipper, Megan Wolfe, and Lee Stecklein.

Dani Cameranesi was named assistant captain for her senior year and she’s done her best to lead the team. Despite missing 12 games—and likely the rest of the season due to injury—Cameranesi’s 18 goals still leads the Gophers and she is the eighth person in program history to surpass 200 career points; her record is 201 points (93g-108a) in 140 games. She has won two National championships, two WCHA regular-season titles, a WCHA Final Faceoff title, was twice a top 10 Finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, and named National Rookie of the year her freshman season. However, Cameranesi is more than just a stellar hockey player, as she has twice been named to the WCHA All-Academic Team and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. Cameranesi will graduate with a degree in Agricultural and Food Business Management and a minor in Finance.

Kelsey Cline is a real workhorse, as she has played in every game (154) since joining Minnesota. She’s played wherever the team has needed her, which has meant spending a lot of time on the blue line blocking 96 shots and accumulating 29 points (95g-24a). Not only does Cline have two National championships, two WCHA regular-season titles, and a WCHA Final Faceoff title, to her name, but she is also an academic success. She was named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar for 2014-15, and is a two-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete, two-time WCHA All-Academic, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee as the women hockey team’s representative. Cline will graduate with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Human Resources.

Paige Haley is another skater who has played wherever she was needed. Appearing in 129 games, she has a career record of 10 points (1g-9a) and blocked 23 shots. One of the hardest challenges Haley faced in her playing career with Minnesota was getting back into playing shape late in her junior year after suffering a serious car accident over that season’s winter break. Along with winning two National championships, two WCHA regular-season titles, and a WCHA Final Faceoff title, she is a two-time WCHA All-Academic and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. Haley will graduate with a degree in Elementary Education and looks forward to being a teacher.

Kate Schipper has played in 150 games, earning 119 career points (40g-79a), in her time with Minnesota. Named assistant captain for her senior year, she has been a quiet leader on the team and consistently skated as a top six forward. Schipper has brains and brawn: being a three-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete, two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, won two National championships, two WCHA regular-season titles, and a WCHA Final Faceoff title. Schipper recently interned with the Minnesota Twins and will graduate with a degree in Entrepreneurial Management. Sheis currently job searching, but enjoys marketing.

Megan Wolfe’s career with Minnesota has mostly been on the blue line—blocking 140 shots and spending years as part of the top defensive pairing—but she leaps forward into offensive action whenever needed. This has been especially true during the Frozen Four, where she has garnered critical points that helped the Gophers to victory. Like the other seniors, Wolfe has earned two National championships, two WCHA regular-season titles, a WCHA Final Faceoff title, and earned 85 career points (17g-68a) in151 games. She was an WCHA All-Academic and Academic All-Big Ten honoree her junior year. Wolfe will graduate with a degree in Business and Marketing Education with a minor in Management and, after an internship with Masonic Cancer Center, wants to work in the medical field.

Lee Stecklein, Minnesota's red-shirted senior who took a year off to compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and earn a silver medal at the age of 19. Since rejoining the Gophers, she has served in one leadership position or another and is this season's sole captain after sharing the honor last year. Stecklein has had success both on and off the ice: winning three National Championships, two WCHA regular-season titles, a WCHA Final Faceoff title, a three-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete, three-time WCHA All-Academic and three-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. She has 91 career points to her name (19g-72a) after playing in 150 games. Stecklein has been a member of the US National Team since 2010—winning three World Championship gold medals—and her most immediate goal after graduation is making the 2018 Olympic roster to win gold at Pyeong Chang. She will be graduating with a degree in Entrepreneurial Management.

Finally, a special shout out to Kate Flug, who played for Minnesota for two years before retiring due to medical reasons. Flug played in 45 games, earned 6 points (2g-4a), won a National championship, two WCHA regular-season titles, and a WCHA Final Faceoff title during her time with the Gophers. Despite the end to her on ice career, Flug remained connected to her teammates, worked as an assistant manager for the women’s hockey team, and is graduating with her class. According to her LinkedIn page, Flug majored in Marketing with a minor in Psychology and wants to do advertising or non-profit work.

These women have been absolutely essential to the program, leading both on and off the ice for at least four years, and will be missed once they move on to their post collegiate lives after graduation. As all the ladies said in their speeches, their time at Minnesota is fleeting, but the memories will last a lifetime. They plan on making a few more before they go though, starting with their final regular season series against Wisconsin. They tied the Badgers 1-1 Saturday, but have a fair shot at beating them Sunday. Then Minnesota will hopefully appear at WCHA Final Face-Off and at the Frozen Four. The WCHA Final Face-Off will be held at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 4th-5th. Then the Frozen Four occurs at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri, on March 17th & 19th.