MINNEAPOLIS — When you play for a Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey program that is seemingly in contention for conference and national titles every year, there is always a spotlight on you.

The light shining on incoming defenseman Madeline Wethington was already bright, after she was named Minnesota’s Ms. Hockey at the end of her final prep season at The Blake School, but a few more watts were added to the bulb this week. Wethington, a puck-moving defenseman from impressive hockey stock, was named the preseason pick for WCHA Rookie of the Year this week when the league’s coaches had their annual conference call.

“Madeline is one of the most talented defensemen probably in North America for her age. So we’re very excited about what she brings to the table,” said Gophers coach Brad Frost, noting that in addition to wearing blue and green for Blake, she has worn plenty of Team USA red, white and blue as well. “She’s played on the U-18 team and has played on the Under 22 team as one of their younger players. We know she’ll bring a good presence back there.”

A relative of the Brodt family of Roseville, which may be the most prominent name in Minnesota women’s hockey, Madeline grew up with a mother — Kerry Wethington — who was the first women’s hockey coach at St. Cloud State. Two aunts, Winny Brodt Brown and Chelsey Brodt Rosenthal, played for the Gophers, with Winny grabbing the state’s first Ms. Hockey award in 1996. Madeline won three state titles at Blake and put up 53 points in 28 games as a senior for the Bears.

The Gophers won the WCHA last season, passing arch-rival Wisconsin on the final weekend of February. But the Badgers got revenge in March, beating the Gophers in the league’s playoff championship game and again in the national title game. Frost brought in one forward, two goalies and Wethington as a freshman class, so his team will be led by veterans. They were picked second, behind Wisconsin, in the preseason poll.

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“The excitement level is extremely high,” Frost said. “I feel like we have a real nice team on paper, and then the question is just where that goes throughout the year as we continue to coach them up and we get to know them better and they get to know each other.”

And they’re expected to dance in that bright spotlight, as always.