Friday, May 5, 2017

Kelly Pannek, 6 Minnesota alums make US National Team for 2018 Olympics

Senior to-be Kelly Pannek for now will be putting off her final year at Minnesota to pursue an Olympic gold medal.

The United States announced its national team roster Friday (May 5, 2017) following a week-long tryout camp with 42 players.

Seven of the eight players with Minnesota ties at the camp were among those named to the 23 woman roster.

That includes Pannek, the nation's 2016-17 leader in points, who was one of three players with college eligibility remaining on the team along with Wisconsin forward Annie Pankowski and Minnesota Duluth goaltender Maddie Rooney.

They will live and train together in Tampa, Florida for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea beginning in September. The USWNT will also participate in pre-tournament competitions. Relocating to Florida is a change from past Olympic cycles where the US team spent time in Blaine, MN.

Of the 23, 21 will make the final US Olympic roster coached by former Minnesota goaltender and Hobey Baker winner Robb Stauber, who was announced as USWNT Olympic head coach earlier this week.

In addition to Pannek, two seniors on last year's Minnesota team that lost to eventual national champion Clarkson are on the team in forward Dani Cameranesi and defender Lee Stecklein.

Gophers alumni Hannah Brandt, Amanda Kessel, Megan Bozek and Gigi Marvin were also among the players. All except Brandt were on the 2014 Olympic roster (as was Stecklein). It's nice to see Brandt, who graduated in 2016 and spent last season playing for the Minnesota Whitecaps along with holding a day job, make the team given she was one of the final cuts for that team and ended up working her way back

Incoming freshman and 2017 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Grace Zumwinkle was the only one with Minnesota ties not making the team. Zumwinkle one of the youngest players in camp, however, and will be with the Gophers for 2016-17.

Zumwinkle, along with an elite incoming freshman class, will be counted on to replace four seniors and Pannek. There is also the possibility the Gophers are without Sarah Potomak if she makes Team Canada. Potomak played in last month's World Championships, scoring a pair of goals.

All of those with college eligibility remaining living and training with their national teams can count 2017-18 as a redshirt season. For Pannek, she would have one season of eligibility remaining in 2018-19 if she so chooses.

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