Hannah Brandt, Hill-Murray
Hill-Murray senior forward Hannah Brandt closed a decorated era of her hockey career in perfect company.
One of five finalists for Let's Play Hockey's Ms. Hockey award, Brandt sat at the head table Sunday at St. Paul's RiverCentre with longtime friend and fellow finalist Hanna Brodt of Roseville to her left.
In the audience were Brandt's teammates as well as Roseville coach Vic Brodt, her first youth coach, and former Raiders standout Winny Brodt, one of her first female hockey idols.
Brodt won the inaugural Ms. Hockey award in 1996. Sunday it was Brandt's turn.
"It's a cool way to end my high school career, especially sitting next to Hanna and talking about all our memories," Brandt said.
Brandt, who will skate for the Gophers next season, fueled the Pioneers' rise to the No. 1 ranking this season with 59 goals, including 13 hat tricks.
Teammates came out in force Sunday to support Brandt, another sign of her qualities on and off the ice.
Senior Goalie of the Year winner Erika Allen of Roseville, left, and 2012 Ms. Hockey Hannah Brandt of HIll-Murray pose with their awards. Submitted photo
"She's such a great ambassador for the game and for our school," Hill-Murray coach Bill Schafhauser said. "I'm just glad that she's going to be at Minnesota so people can continue to watch her."
Brandt was selected Ms. Hockey from a group of five finalists: Brodt, Jonna Curtis (Elk River/Zimmerman), Milica McMillen (Breck) and Lee Stecklein (Roseville).
Roseville's Erika Allen won the Senior Goalie of the Year award. She helped the Raiders to a runner-up finish in the Class 2A state tournament.
Though Hill-Murray's season ended with a section final loss to Roseville, Brandt attended the state tournament Thursday evening and returned for the title game Saturday night. Watching Brodt and Stecklein live and seeing highlights of McMillen enhanced her appreciation of the award.
"All four of the other finalists are such great players and people so it's nice to be picked," Brandt said. "I think all of them have bright futures. You haven't heard the end of them."
The same goes for Brandt, who most hockey observers predict will excel at both the collegiate and Olympic levels.
Fittingly, one of Brandt's well-wishers, Winny Brodt, wrapped her in a hug before stepping back and saying, "Now onto bigger and better things, right?"