As Amy Petersen elbows into opponents and scrambles down the ice, her slick, brunette ponytail swings back and forth, whipping over her shoulders as she makes sharp, angular movements to chase down the puck.
Petersen, a sophomore forward, is second on the Penn State women’s hockey team with 22 points through 20 games this season.
“She’s just springboarding off of her successful freshman year and is absolutely flourishing in every aspect of the game,” head coach Josh Brandwene said. “Amy is unbelievably hockey-smart — off the charts.”
Off the ice, her sharp mind transitions into the classroom. She will officially declare her major at the end of the spring semester and is planning on working toward a degree in actuarial science in the Smeal College of Business. According to the college’s website, actuarial science is a study of “the application of mathematical and statistical concepts to the measurement of life and other risk contingencies.”
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Weighing risks in hockey games and practice is nothing new for Petersen.
She helped Minnetonka (Minn.) High School win three state championships. She set the Minnetonka single-season points record (65), scoring 29 goals and recording 36 assists as a senior.
Her offensive firepower continued into her freshman year at Penn State, when she scored 15 points, had the second-most assists with 10 and saw action in all 36 games. This year, Peterson is tied for first on the team with 11 goals to go with 11 assists.
Petersen, though hailing from Minnesota and spending innumerable hours in a rink, somehow maintains the hint of a tan. Pink nail polish dots the tips of her fingers, contrasting with the bulky protective gear she wears while rapidly crossing the ice.
Her Minnesota connection, hockey finesse and interest in Penn State have proven essential for the Nittany Lions’ team-building.
Petersen started the pipeline from Minnetonka to University Park. Soon after she committed to the Nittany Lions, her teammate Laura Bowman made her own decision to play for Penn State.
A year later, high school teammate and goalie Hannah Ehresmann joined the duo.
In November, Brandwene received a commitment from current Minnetonka senior Kelsey Crow.
“It adds to the great family atmosphere we have in the program,” Brandwene said.
Petersen made her decision because of the program’s new place as a Division-I member of the Big Ten.
“It’s known for its great sports teams and also its academics,” she said of her decision. “The way they treat us as athletes here, it’s amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better place to be.”
Ehresmann described Petersen as supportive in the locker room.
“She’s always there for you, no matter what,” Ehresmann said.
With Petersen’s hometown nearly 1,000 miles away, her family supports her from the couch, eyes glued to online streaming of the games.
The parents of the three Minnetonka teammates rotate hosting watch parties and have made the trip together for a game already this season.
Thanks to Petersen’s initial commitment, Minnetonka boasts its own Hockey Valley fan club with a now well-established 990-mile connection.