There are very few Minnesota Gophers who have made an impact quite like Dani Cameranesi has since she burst on the scene in 2013. Cameranesi Statistics could be their own Jeopardy! category because she has done so much. She was a Rookie of the Year, two-time Patty Kazmaier Top-10 Finalist, a two-time National Champion, and an IIHF Worlds gold medalist.
Cameranesi will be joining the U.S. Women’s National Team this coming fall for the upcoming Olympics in Pyeongchang. She is no stranger to the international stage, having already participated in a U18 tournament and IIHF Worlds in 2015, but this will be her first shot at an Olympic medal. Cameranesi was 17 when Team USA took home a silver in 2014, and will be joining a host of other NCAA athletes she has shared the ice with over the years.
Before an injury in December robbed her of half her senior season, Cameranesi was part of the dynamic Gopher top line alongside center Kelly Pannek and right winger Sarah Potomak. She has shared time on Minnesota’s top six with other top talent such as Amanda Kessel and Hannah Brandt, both of whom she will be joining for the Olympics on Team USA.
Look no further than this delightfully cheesy Cameranesi highlight reel to see what she is capable of. As long as she is on the ice, she is a threat to score in any way. With the puck she is dangerous in space as she is able to locate her shots exceptionally well. Without the puck, she routinely finds herself in position to make a play on a tip-in or one-timer.
Cameranesi’s “worst” season was likely her senior campaign, when she only played 22 games yet still scored 18 goals and 14 assists. At the time of her injury, Cameranesi had scored 32 points in 17 games. She was first in the nation in goals per game with 1.06, and second in points per game with 1.82. She returned in the WCHA playoffs in dramatic fashion, tallying 14 shots on goal in the conference semifinals to set a new school record.
Every other season in Minnesota was outstanding for Cameranesi. When she was a freshman in 2013-14 she was named the WCHA Rookie of the Year, as well as the National Rookie of the year, and was named to the USCHO All-Rookie Team. Cameranesi went 19-17-36 and finished second on the team with 161 shots on goal. Her sophomore season was also outstanding. In addition to her first Patty Kaz Top-10 finish, she was an honoree of the following: ACHA/CCM All-American Second Team, All-USCHO Third Team, All-WCHA First Team, and NCAA All-Tournament Team. It was the kind of season where you say “it cannot get better than this.”
But it did.
Cameranesi decided her junior year would be another one for the ages when she amassed 33 goals and 35 assists in 40 games. Those numbers were best for the team lead in points (68) and the team lead in goals and power play goals (13), despite finishing with 144 shots on goal compared to 189 in 2014-15. The list of honors stacked up again, as she was named a Second-Team All American, First Team All-WCHA, Second Team All-USCHO, and WCHA scoring champion. Her second Patty Kaz Top-10 finish was also her second consecutive National Championship with the Gophers.
Cameranesi also frequented the international stage for Team USA, including the 2012 and 2013 IIHF U18 tournaments. She scored 2 assists in 2012 and 2 goals and 4 assists in 2013. In 2014 she competed in the U22 Series as well as the Four Nations Cup, where she scored 2 goals and 2 assists. In 2015 she won gold with Team USA in the IIHF World Championship game, scoring three assists in five games along the way.
It feels like everywhere Cameranesi goes, she wins. At 22 years old, she has already had a lifetime of achievements.
She’s going for gold, folks.
This upcoming Olympics will be huge for Team USA, and Cameranesi needs to be a big factor for the Americans to win a gold medal. Cameranesi will join her linemates Pannek and Annie Pankowksi in Seoul, and it will be interesting to see how they are used within this stacked USA forward group. We will get our first look of Cameranesi on this iteration of the Olympic team in the upcoming The Time Is Now Tour, which starts with the exhibition in Boston in October.
After the Olympics end, odds are she will continue her career professionally, either with the NWHL or CWHL or with the Minnesota Whitecaps. She was drafted in 2016 as the third overall pick by the Connecticut Whale, but those rights have expired. The Whitecaps are a strong possibility given that she is a Plymouth, Minn., native. Wherever she may end up, Cameranesi will be another strong addition to that team’s forward group.
Is this ranking too high or too low?
19 could be a little low for Cameranesi, but given that she missed half of her senior season, some rightful skepticism could be keeping her from climbing the ranks. She is without a doubt one of the top NCAA players right now, but there has not been a solid, extended look at Cameranesi against professional or international talent.
With a standout international season, we may soon see the rise of “Dani Minnesota” as an American hockey icon. If she can bounce back from her injury and pick up her first-half form, the sky is the limit.