Saturday, March 11, 2017

2017 NCAA Tournament: Gophers get back Dani Cameranesi

Mixed in with national championship banners, Minnesota getting a star player back late in the season is quickly becoming a Gopher signature move.

In this case the player is senior co-captain Dani Cameranesi, who surprisingly returned last week for Minnesota from a lower body injury suffered nearly two months ago. She will be in the lineup today for the team's NCAA Quarterfinal on the road against Minnesota Duluth.

Puck drop is at 2:30 and can be streamed here.

Cameranesi was cleared a few days prior to the WCHA Final Faceoff, according to head coach Brad Frost.

"She had a 4 to 8 week time frame after her last injury so we just hoped we would continue to be playing and winning long enough to get her back. It's a credit to her. She's worked her tail off to get back and healthy."

Prior to last weekend Cameranesi last played January 14th at Duluth. In 20 games this season she has 18 goals (at the time she was injured that led the nation and was nearly a goal per game).

She put up 14 shots on goal in the WCHA Final Faceoff semifinal against UMD. Minnesota lost 2-1 in 2OT.

"Dani is a game changer. You have to find a way to play without her when she was injured, but having her back we were all super excited to see her on the ice," redshirt senior defender Lee Stecklein said. "She brings another level of leadership that really benefits us."

Getting Cameranesi back reunites the team's top line of her, Sarah Potomak and Kelly Pannek.

At the same time, it gives Minnesota a chance to better use its depth. For example, sophomore Taylor Williamson stepped up in Cameranesi's absence, scoring 4 goals in 5 games to end the regular season. She can be moved back to center the team's third line.

The hope there for Frost's team is able to find success in the NCAA Tournament with both a top scoring line and depth that already have been put in the tough spots throughout the season in part due to injuries.

"A great player comes into the lineup and then it also allows the rest of our team to be stronger," Frost said.

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