We had a tie between two players for fourth place, and we couldn’t bear to break it, so clocking in at the fourth spot at our T25-U25 (T26-U25?) are two players who, safe to say, are the future of USA Hockey — and frankly, they’re already the present.
Here’s a look at Hannah Brandt (You can read about Megan Keller here).
Brandt is another player who, if we listed every single one of her past achievements, would take practically forever. Seriously. You'd be reading this article until the Olympic torch gets lit in PyeongChang.
So we'll condense it, just a little. In every single one of her college seasons, Brandt was at least a Top 10 Finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, and she was a Top Three Finalist during her sophomore and junior seasons.
She's also a three-time NCAA National Champion, earning the tournament MVP award her junior year. She set a Minnesota record with 82 points her freshman year (33G, 49A) and was the USCHO and WCHA Rookie of the Year that same season. She consistently led the Gophers in scoring and was a staple at the top of the NCAA points leaderboard.
After graduating from college, Brandt joined the Minnesota Whitecaps. It was an unexpected move considering that she'd been drafted by the Connecticut Whale in the NWHL and then later had her rights traded to the New York Riveters. At that time, most of her Team USA teammates were also competing in the NWHL. Brandt chose to stay closer to home.
She's been a fairly regular member of Team USA's senior national team. Brandt was a member of the U-18 Worlds squad in 2011, winning gold, and the next year was on the senior national team for Worlds, where she won a silver medal.
There was a brief break in her time on the senior team, but she played on a number of U-22 teams and was named to the 2014 Four Nations Cup roster (silver) before re-joined the Worlds roster in 2015, where she helped the team to a first place finish. She was also on the 2016 Four Nations roster (gold) and most recently, the 2017 Worlds team (gold). Currently, she's centralizing with the team in Tampa.
Brandt is part of a young group of Team USA forwards that will slowly start to assume their role as the team's core after this Olympic cycle. Though she hasn't been on World Championship rosters consistently, she has plenty of experience with the national team and will likely be a cornerstone of the team for years to come.
At just 23, Brandt will join other teammates like Kendall Coyne, Dani Cameranesi and Alex Carpenter as the next generation of Team USA stars.
She isn't going anywhere - expect to see Brandt wearing the red, white and blue for a long time. A natural center, Brandt is electric in the offensive zone and fits perfectly into the national team’s system that features speed and a dangerous transition game.
Is this ranking too high or too low?
Many were disappointed that we didn’t get to see her on NWHL ice, but she will soon be on television sets all across the globe. Her sensational career as a Golden Gopher and her production on the international stage to date make her a must-watch player in PyeongChang.
Like Keller, this is probably the perfect spot for Brandt right now. She's hands-down one of the top forwards for Team USA moving forward, and she may be able to jump up or down a spot or two by next year, but all in all, this feels like a fair ranking for Brandt.