Kasson native stars at St. Cloud State
Hockey was all Dana Rasmussen ever wanted to do.
Now, after spending approximately the past 15 years playing hockey, her prolific career came to an end when she completed her senior season this winter.
The 2015 graduate of Kasson-Mantorville High School said what she enjoys most about playing hockey is, “All the work it takes, the mentality, the grit, scoring, making plays, I could go on and on. It’s my passion, so I really enjoy all of it.”
That passion for the game helped her become the Dodge County Wildcats’ all-time leading goal scorer and she was named a Minnesota Ms. Hockey finalist her senior season. Following her illustrious high school career, she committed to skate for the Ohio State University.
While skating for Ohio State, she scored her first collegiate goal.
“I was very excited. It helped with my nerves. I honestly wasn’t expecting that shot to go in because it was on the ice and right at the goalie’s feet. I laughed about it, but overall I was super excited to get a goal in my very first college game,” she said.
In addition to that goal, she scored one more goal and tallied three assists during the 19 games that she appeared in for the Buckeyes.
However, being over 700 miles away from home took its toll and she decided to transfer to a school closer to home.
“When I decided to leave Ohio, I pretty much knew I wanted to come back to Minnesota. Jeremy [Gunderson, Dodge County girls’ hockey coach] got in contact with Steve MacDonald who was the assistant coach at Saint Cloud at the time (now head coach). I went on a visit and decided to go there because it was close enough to home, but not too close and they have a good business school,” she said.
Before she skated for the Huskies, she redshirted, which means she didn’t play, during the 2016-2017 season.
Rasmussen said it was difficult not being to play that season.
“It was very hard not playing for a year. I went from playing games pretty much year round for 10+ years to nothing, which is a tough adjustment for anyone. I really had to focus and work very hard throughout that year to make sure I could come back like I had no time off,” she said.
However, she said there were a couple positives to redshirting.
“I got the chance to adjust to a new atmosphere and team. I also got more time to work on skills,” she said.
In light of the work she put in, Rasmussen said it hard not scoring as much during her time at St. Cloud State as she did for Dodge County.
“I would get upset with myself about it often. I put in more work with my shot and everything throughout college, but the goalies are a lot better than they are in high school. It was an adjustment for sure,” she said.
Another adjustment, she said, was developing skills off the ice.
“You grow each year in college. You develop skills not only on the ice but off as well that you’ll need for the rest of your life. College has taught me a lot of stuff. By being a full-time student and athlete, you have to develop your time-management skills and work ethic. Those are the two things that I kept gaining throughout my time at St. Cloud,” she said. “As a person, you just naturally mature over your years. You realize the importance of new things, not just school and sports.”
Now that her collegiate career has come to an end, Rasmussen wishes she’d invested more time into her craft.
“I would probably go back and put even more work in. I would have loved to score more and get more assists so working on that kind of stuff. Other than that, I really enjoyed my time at St. Cloud and I am sad it’s over. I am just thankful that I got to experience hockey at this level,” she said.
For those high school skaters or younger who hope to experience hockey at the collegiate level, she recommends maintaining a positive outlook.
“Athletics are physically and mentally tough. One thing that always seemed to help me was to smile as much as possible. I always performed better when I was smiling. I worried less about being tired, sore, and not doing my best when I focused on smiling and having fun,” she said.
Rasmussen said she also had fun when her college team stopped in Kasson to practice at Four Seasons Arena on their way to St. Charles, Missouri, to face Lindenwood University.
“I really enjoyed it. My teammates got to see where it all started for me. It still is one of my favorite rinks to play at. It is always nice making your way back home. I feel that it is a nice refresher for me. I spent the summer skating here in the summer and you just kind of re-adapt to the style, which really helped my performance this season,” she said.
However, after devoting so much time and energy to hockey, she’s unsure what she’ll do now that her college eligibility has come to an end.
“I am still figuring out what my plans are for next year. I am excited to use my degree and pursue a degree in Business, either in Operations or Human Resources,” she said. “I would also love to be able to coach sometime in the next few years. It has always been something I have wanted to do and if the opportunity arises, I will for sure take it.”