As the longest running women’s ice hockey team in the United States, the Minnesota Whitecaps have forged a proud legacy that has helped bring a major league feeling to the game. Throughout such a sensational hockey journey, the remarkable contributions of the Brodt family, headlined by sensational sisters Chelsey and Winny providing solid leadership on the ice, helping make such a legacy a reality.
In the state of Minnesota, the Brodt name is synonymous with hockey. Of note, the St. Cloud State Huskies bear a proud Brodt legacy, complementing the impact on the Whitecaps. Vic Brodt competed for the Huskies during the 1980’s while Kerri Brodt was the first head coach of the Huskies women’s ice hockey program. Currently, Hanna is part of a new generation of Brodt hockey players making their mark. Having won a state title in 2010 at Roseville High School (where Chelsey and Winny attended); she is in her senior season with the Huskies.
Having logged over 75 career points with the Whitecaps, elite blueliner Winny Brodt is certainly one of the Whitecaps’ living legends. Her legacy in women’s ice hockey is without dispute. From winning the inaugural Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award to capturing a national championship with the University of New Hampshire, she would also compete with the US national team and gain the WWHL’s Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2007.
Being able to share her journey on the Whitecaps with her younger sister Chelsey has only served to make it so much more enjoyable. Having also registered over 75 career points with the Whitecaps, Chelsey was a finalist for the Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award and went on to win the NCAA Frozen Four with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, while garnering multiple Academic All-WCHA honors. Calling Chelsey a teammate has only strengthened the unbreakable bond of friendship between the two, adding an exciting dimension to both of their hockey careers, one that Winny is proud of,
“The best part of being my sister’s teammate is all the great moments and memories we got to share not only on the ice, but more importantly the time off the ice. With how busy people get in life, there is little time to do things and because we are teammates we always get time to hang out playing hockey or going on road trips.
I would not trade any of those times for anything in the world. The stories we have from our hockey opportunities are priceless and we got to do them together.”
Among the greatest moments in their astonishing careers was the fact that they were the first sisters to win the Clarkson Cup. Coincidentally, the historic feat took place in 2010, which signified another memorable milestone in American women’s hockey history. That year, Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux were the first sisters, and twins, to compete for Team USA in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games. This season, the Lamoureux Twins are members of the Whitecaps, only adding to such a proud sense of history, bringing all four of their careers full circle.
In reflecting on such an unprecedented milestone, Chelsey is proud on what she was able to accomplish with her sister. Adding to their jubilation was the fact that their father Jack Brodt, a co-founder of the Whitecaps, served on the coaching staff, as the Whitecaps became the first American-based team to capture the coveted Clarkson Cup. As a side note, another historic first took place for the Whitecaps on that day, as Jenny Potter became the first (and only) American-born player to win the Clarkson, IIHF World Gold and Winter Games gold.
“Wow, that is pretty cool. Winny is six years older than me so it was fun to be on the same team with her because this was never possible when growing up because of the age gap between us. It was amazing to win the Clarkson Cup with this Whitecaps group, but even more special was sharing the experience with my sister as a teammate and our father as a coach.”
As interest in women’s ice hockey continued to gain momentum with the advent of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, the Whitecaps were essential to not only increasing awareness about the sport, but providing some of America’s finest players with a place to play. Considering that several members of Team USA made the Whitecaps their club team, the involvement of the team in the 2009 Clarkson Cup also helped bring women’s hockey to a whole new level.
Prior to the Whitecaps captured the coveted Clarkson in spring 2010, their immortal impact on the event truly took place one year earlier. Competing in the inaugural Clarkson Cup title game against the Montreal Stars in 2009; held in the hockey hotbed of Kingston, Ontario, it added a unique chapter to the eternal hockey rivalry between Canada and the US.
With the 2009 Whitecaps roster featuring Ruggiero, Rheaume and Jessica Koizumi, who would score the first goal in NWHL history (and in Boston Blades history), among others, it was an event that served as a catalyst, augmenting conversation and fuelling the dream of professional women’s hockey possible. As Chelsey reflects on her proud career with the Whitecaps, the impact of the team in Clarkson Cup lore is one of great importance to her,
“There have been many memorable moments as a Whitecap but winning the Clarkson Cup is at the top of my list. I really enjoyed getting to know new teammates many of which I played against in college and of course reconnecting with old teammates as well. Thanks to the Whitecaps all of us have had the opportunity to play hockey at a completive level after college!”
When reflecting on what she has enjoyed most about playing with the Whitecaps, Winny’s sentiments are akin to Chelsey. Exceptionally proud at the opportunities that the team has provided to allow elite players to continue playing after their university career, Winny has also cherished the opportunity to extend her proud career. Such a legacy was exceptionally important as the Whitecaps became home to many of the finest American-born women’s competitors.
“The best thing about playing Whitecaps since I graduated from college is the opportunity to play competitive hockey at a high level. As you get older, it is tough to find avenues in life that you can still use a lifelong skill where it is taken seriously.
It is a bonus to be able to play with high level players that have been my teammates on past teams and even new teammates that I use to coach and or play against.”
In a career that has spanned over a decade with the Whitecaps; the Brodt sisters have played with a who’s who of women’s hockey. During the 2000s and early 2010s, they had the privilege of calling players such as Jenny Potter, Caitlin Cahow, Julie Chu, Molly Engstrom, Jessica Koizumi, Gigi Marvin, Manon Rheaume and recent Hall of Fame inductee Angela Ruggiero as teammates. In later years, the Brodt sisters would also see the Whitecaps welcome players from other countries, including Finnish stars Mira Jalosuo and Noora Raty.
During the month of October 2015, the Whitecaps were graciously invited by the NWHL to compete in a pair of exhibition matches. Splitting a series with the New York Riveters and the Connecticut Whale, it was a remarkable display of hockey that not only welcomed professional women’s hockey to the US, testament to NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan’s efforts to grow the game.
In the aftermath of the series, the final score was not important, only the feelings of friendship and sportsmanship. While said series introduce the legendary Whitecaps to a new generation of fans, it served as a way of paying tribute, showing acknowledgement and respect for their efforts in helping lead up to this moment. Throughout such a journey, the remarkable contributions of the Brodt family, headlined by Chelsey and Winny providing solid leadership on the ice have helped make it a reality.
Adding to such momentum is the fact that two weeks before the holidays, the Whitecaps get to reciprocate such gratitude. Hosting the Boston Pride for a two-game set, featuring two of the world’s finest competitors in Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight, it is a special chance for fans to witness the first-ever professional women’s hockey matches in Minnesota. It is only fitting that the Whitecaps are part of such a landmark moment in Minnesota’s storied hockey history, ready to add to its amazing legacy while creating new memories.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image supplied by Winny Brodt