At the moment, Amanda Kessel is the best player on the best women’s hockey team in the NCAA. She is having a great offensive season, as is her team, and she has a chance to put up offensive numbers that women’s college hockey has never seen before.
But despite all that, Kessel acknowledges that her real dream is still more than a year away.
“It’s something that I’ve always dreamt of,” Kessel said of making the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team. “I’ve dreamed of playing in the Olympics forever, so that’s going to be a dream come true.”
Meanwhile, Kessel is having a dreamy season for the University of Minnesota. The junior forward scored a hat trick in a weekend win over Bemidji State. She leads the NCAA in goals (25), assists (29) and points (54). And she has a chance to break the NCAA single-season record for points (114, held by ex-Gopher Natalie Darwitz in 2005).
“I knew that I had to step up this year,” said Kessel, acknowledging that she does “not really” think about breaking the points record. “It would be pretty tough, but if I keep playing well and my team keeps playing well, maybe it can happen. It’s a possibility, but it’s obviously very hard.”
The Golden Gophers’ win over Bemidji State gives them a 20-0 record, with an NCAA-record 28-game winning streak dating back to last season. In addition to Kessel, top-ranked Minnesota boasts two other national team players on its roster — defensemen Milica McMillen and Megan Bozek.
“It’s been a great start [to the season],” Kessel said. “Obviously I’m producing well, but I get a lot of help from my teammates. We have a great team here, so it makes it a lot easier on me.”
Of course, Minnesota isn’t the only great team that Kessel plays for. The U.S. Women's National Team recently took home the title at the Four Nations Cup in November, defeating Canada in the gold-medal game.
And with the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games barely more than a year away, Kessel knows that this is a good time for Team USA to be finding its groove.
“It’s been awesome, the progression of the team over the past couple years,” she said. “We just keep getting better and better. I think things are going really well for us.”
Kessel tried out for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, but as one of the youngest players at the Olympic tryouts, she fell short of making Team USA.
“I thought I had a shot at it, but I was just a senior in high school,” Kessel said.
Maybe it was meant to be, since now there is an excellent chance that Amanda and her brother, Phil — currently a star for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs — will each be going for gold medals in Sochi as members of the women’s and men’s national team, respectively.
“That’d be awesome,” Amanda said of the idea of brother-sister gold medals. “It could be a possibility, so I’d really look forward to that.”
But even if Amanda Kessel doesn’t win gold in the 2014 Games, just playing for Team USA would be the opportunity of a lifetime. For a girl who began skating at 3 years old, she’s just over a year away from maybe experiencing her ultimate dream.
“Ever since I was really little and I knew that was a possibility for girls hockey, that’s been a dream of mine,” Kessel said. “It’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc
Tag(s): Feature Articles