July 23, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS – The Golden Gopher women's hockey team welcomes four new freshmen for the 2014-15 season. One of the talented freshmen is right-handed forward Kelly Pannek, who joins the Gophers from Plymouth, Minn.
Pannek finished her senior season at Benilde-St. Margaret's High School with 99 points (41 goals, 58 assists), and she was a finalist for the 2014 Minnesota Ms. Hockey award. Pannek led the Red Knights to a runner-up finish at the 2014 Minnesota Class AA State Tournament as a senior.
Pannek has international experience skating with the U.S. Under-18 team and attending USA Hockey development camps, along with the 2013 IIHF High Performance Camp in England. She was also a standout soccer player in high school, being named Minnesota Ms. Soccer her senior year and leading Benilde to back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013.
Gopher Sports: How did you first start playing hockey?
Kelly Pannek: I used to rollerblade around my house, and I eventually asked my dad if I could play hockey.
GS: What sports did you play growing up?
KP: I played hockey, soccer, basketball and baseball.
GS: How did you choose hockey over soccer as the sport to focus on in college?
KP: I chose hockey over soccer because I genuinely enjoy all of the things that hockey involves, like practices, games, and working out. I didn’t really enjoy soccer practices as much.
GS: How did you end up choosing the University of Minnesota?
KP: I really like the coaching staff. They made me feel really comfortable and at home, starting with my very first visit. I also really like the atmosphere they have made for the team, as well as all the University itself has to offer.
GS: Do you have a major or career field in mind?
KP: I am enrolled in the Carlson School of Management, so I plan on doing something in business.
GS: What do you like to do in your free time?
KP: I like to read, watch Netflix, or do anything active in my free time.
GS: What was it like scoring a hat trick in the state championship game?
KP: It was an awesome experience to get to play in the state tournament, and it’s something I will never forget. It was exciting to score three goals in the championship game as well, but I would trade those three goals for a state title.
GS: What has your USA Hockey experience been like?
KP: I feel really honored to be able to be a part of USA Hockey, where I had the chance to be a part of the U-18 team and experience hockey at a high international level. I also had the opportunity to travel to England and participate in the IIHF High Performance Camp, which was cool because I got to meet people from so many different countries and see how they play and train.
GS: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
KP: I usually play some soccer before games and listen to music.
GS: What are you most looking forward to about Gopher women’s hockey?
KP: I am looking forward to being a member of the team and contributing in any way that I can. There is so much tradition and history involved with this program, and I look forward to being part of it.
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