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BEST LOCAL OLYMPIAN Minneapolis 2002 - Courtney Kennedy

When the U.S. women's hockey team fell to Canada in February, ending a miraculous 35-game winning streak, the cameras trained in on the teary faces of Team USA. Nobody in that crowd was more crushed than Courtney Kennedy, a powerful defenseman who just a year earlier was pounding slap shots as a senior for the University of Minnesota women's team. Kennedy, who came to the Twin Cities by way of Woburn, Massachusetts, is technically not a Minnesotan. Fine. But Kennedy bled maroon and gold and was equally crestfallen when the Golden Gophers were knocked out of postseason contention last year. In fact, Kennedy talks often of her genuine affection for the U, how glad she was to be living in the hockey state, and how proud she was to be in a pioneering program that elevated women's college hockey all around the country. Once a Gopher, always a Gopher. Besides, anyone who's seen Kennedy play, or faced her in a game, will tell you that she's one of the best this state will ever see.

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