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One Fast Year Leads Into Another for Dani Cameranesi

11/18/2014, 11:30am EST
By Doug Williams - Special to USAHockey.com

University of Minnesota Sophomore Played in 2014 Four Nations Cup

In just over a year of college hockey, Dani Cameranesi has proven to be an impact player for the University of Minnesota.

In her first season of 2013-14, she was selected National Rookie of the Year by the Women’s Hockey Commissioners Association after scoring 19 goals with 17 assists in 41 games. She was the top freshman scorer in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and tied for ninth overall.

But the award certainly hasn’t gone to her head.

As far as she’s concerned, her freshman season was just another learning experience in a game she’s loved since she started playing at age 5. It was another season of playing, studying and working hard to strengthen her weaknesses.

In fact, she still doesn’t consider herself the No. 1 player in her family. When she was a little girl, her older brother, Tony, was always her hockey role model, and he remains so today.

Tony Cameranesi is a junior forward at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and he and Dani stay in touch, constantly texting about hockey. Hockey has been their glue.

“I guess you could say it’s our thing,” Tony Cameranesi once said. “We talk about hockey a lot.”

“I know a lot of people say our games are very similar, but honestly he’s got to be one of the fastest players I’ve ever seen,” Dani said. “Just being around him, he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. He wakes up early in the morning for workouts, and then he’ll sprint later on and skate.”

“Just seeing all the things he does kind of makes me admire him and want to be like him. Almost since I was little, I was always following him around and trying to be like him.”

This past offseason, the two often worked out and practiced together. His example helps push her to be better, she said.

Though she had an excellent first season — after coming into Minnesota as the state’s high school Ms. Hockey — the 5-foot-5 forward knew there were things she needed to work on for this season, particularly her shooting and stick handling.

“That was one area of my game that I thought was a little weaker and I needed to improve on,” she said. “So I still continue to work on that today in practice and after practice. … I strive really hard to work more on my weaknesses and hopefully make my game a little bit more well-rounded.”

Minnesota coach Brad Frost even cited that work ethic in April when Cameranesi received the National Rookie of the Year honor.

“Dani had an incredible year for us,” he said at the time. “She is an extremely hard worker with great speed. Dani is relentless both in her offensive pursuit and defensive back pressure. She scored big goals for us all year.”

On a talent-laden team that is 9-1-2 against a tough schedule, Cameranesi ranks second only to Hannah Brandt in scoring with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 11 games.

Gophers Cameranesi, Brandt and Lee Stecklein recently took a break from their college program to be a part of Team USA in the Four Nations Cup in Kamloops, B.C. The U.S. finished second in the tournament, losing to Canada in a shootout in the championship game.

It was the first Four Nations Cup experience for Cameranesi, and she was soaking up the chance to play for the U.S. and learn from veteran players such as Brianna Decker, Kendall Coyne and Hilary Knight.

“Just being able to play on a team with them and see the things that they do, even before and after games — even if it’s just listening to the way they speak in interviews, the way they play — I’m constantly learning.”

Cameranesi says she welcomes the challenges she faces every time she takes the next step to a new level of hockey.

Last year she had to adjust to a faster game in college and play smarter by knowing “where to be and when to be” on the ice. At Four Nations it was another intense course.

“You’re being pushed every day, whether it’s in practice or in games, and there’s just so many levels you can get to,” she said. “I honestly think it’s really exciting.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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