Sunday, 21 June 2015

Lee Stecklein and the qualities that make her stand out

Guest writer: Ben Smith

Lee Stecklein, perhaps one of the best prospects for next year’s NWHL draft, is expected to contribute heavenly to whatever franchise is able to obtain her rights. She’s a very special player, who has terrific defensive abilities, as well as Olympic experience.

But what makes her stand out?

Born April 23rd 1994, her passion for hockey began the very second she first tried on skates in Roseville Minnesota. She began her quest to greatness at Roseville Area High School, where she helped lead her Raiders to four Suburban East Conference championships. 

In 2010, she reached the peak of the high school hockey mountain, by winning a Minnesota state championship in 2010. She ended her high school career as the top scoring defensemen.

But that’s not the only place where she honed her hockey skills.
Stecklein first became affiliated with USA Hockey at age 14, when she first attended the National Development Camp. She then played in the 2011 US Under-18 Select tournament, and the Under-18 World Championships in 2010 and 2012.

And then the NCAA came calling.

She’s played with the Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s hockey program since 2012. In her freshman year, she tallied 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists), and was named the WCHA Rookie of the Week in November of that year. She would get her first taste of victory when Minnesota captured the 2013 NCAA National Championship.

The following year (2013-2014), Stecklein took the year off of NCAA, to represent the United States in the 2014 Sochi Winter games. The young star earned 1 assist in five games, and won the silver medal. She was the youngest member of that team.

She then returned to Minnesota, where in her sophomore season, she was named to the AHCA/CCM Second Team All-American. An All-USCHO First Team, All WCHA First Team, and if that was not enough for you, a WCHA Scholar Athlete, and WCHA All-Academic Team.  

Her team took notice of her work ethic and heart by naming her an assistant captain. Her Sophomore season- the time where most young stars shine- came with 5 goals, 22 assists, which tied her for fifth in the country for top scoring defensemen.

Finally, the 21 year-old had her moment, when her Golden Gophers captured the 2015 NCAA National Championship over Harvard. She put up an assist during the championship 4-1 victory.

And she wasn’t done winning yet.

The following month, she captured her first-ever gold medal at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Malmo, Sweden.

A lot is expected of her in her Senior year with the Golden Gophers. Together with teammate Hannah Brandt- who’s expected to go 2nd overall in the draft - it’s crystal clear that Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s hockey is in good hands. She knows how to win, with two NCAA National Championships, an Olympic Silver medal, as well as numerous other international and domestic accolades. Her unmatched work ethic and passion is envied.

Next year, she’ll be a co-captain of the Golden Gophers together with Brandt, proving once again that’s she’s a leader.

She’s expected to be a franchise player for whoever selects her in the 2016 NWHL Entry Draft.
She’s a winner.

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