Dani Cameranesi is a dangler. A sniper. She knows how to light the lamp. Bury the biscuit. Dani goes bar down, top cheddar. Five-hole. Garbage goals. One-timers. She’s got sauce, vision and silky-smooth hands.
She is, as they say, a (now Buffalo) Beauty.
The Plymouth, Minnesota native and current forward for the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts tallied 357 points in high school and 201 points at the University of Minnesota, along with five huge points (3 goals, 2 assists) en route to 2018 U.S. Olympic Gold.
“When I was younger, I used to be an assist person,” said Cameranesi, a two-time NCAA National Champion (Gophers), two-time state high school champion (Blake), Ms. Hockey Award winner (2013), and 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist.
“Then I started shooting a lot of pucks in the garage. I don’t remember my first goal. But I do remember the feeling of scoring as a kid. It's really exciting, obviously. A lot of the time, though, scoring is due to a lot of the hard work by teammates. Being able to celebrate with your teammates and the people that made it happen is the most exciting part."
Here are some of Dani Cameranesi’s goal-scoring secrets:
The game of hockey is more offensive minded than ever before. But the goalies have improved, too.
"It's definitely harder to score goals now,” Cameranesi admits. “The goalies have gotten a lot better. They have better techniques and that helps them cover up more space which definitely makes it a lot harder.”
To counter balance the increase in high quality goalies, Cameranesi has had to develop a new skill set.
“A big thing that I've been working on recently is getting my shot off in stride. To be able to get your head up and pick the corners while in stride,” Cameranesi said. “I’m working on a quicker release because if I release in stride the goalie isn't set or squared up to my shot. The minute you set your feet the goalie squares up to your stick and the puck. But if you're in stride and don't set your feet then they don't know when it will be released."
“For my whole career, I've taken more of a snap shot rather than a wrist shot. A wrist shot stays on your stick a lot longer and flows off,” Cameranesi said. “The most important thing I've discovered with the snap shot is that you pull it in and open your blade up and release it quickly. Even just pulling it in a little bit changes the goalie’s angle on the puck.”
Get in Tight
"I do a lot of drills with former Gopher and current Wayzata boys’ coach Pat O'Leary and my brother Tony,” Cameranesi said. “We do a lot of drills in tight near the goal. That's where I score a lot of my goals. I’m not scoring far out from the net. I’m in tight. So, it’s important to get the knack of getting the puck up quickly into the top part of the net. We do little drills out of the corners. I skate out of the corner with the puck along the goal line. I keep my feet moving along the goal line. And then I pull the puck out quickly and go top shelf near side corner."
“The more players can work on small-area games and be able to find space in those tight areas really helps with goal scoring."
Net Front Presence
At 5-foot-5, Dani fights larger defensemen for valuable real estate in the offensive crease. She believes that scoring goals in the crease is both a physical and mental test.
"Being in front of the net is one of my favorite things. I'm almost always in front of the net screening the goalie,” Cameranesi said. “I've scored most of my goals around the net and in front of the net. I score off of rebounds, too. A lot of my goals have come from fighting to get to that open space in front of the net and get my stick free. I get myself in a position to get rebounds or tip the puck. It's a lot easier to score when the goalie’s eyes are taken away.”
The mental fortitude it takes to continuously go into the crease to battle for pucks and tips is tough sledding, too.
“As I've gotten older, it’s been a lot harder to fight for that space and get to those open spots in front of the net,” Cameranesi said. “I’m definitely not one of the biggest players either. But if you find the right techniques and mental and physical strength to get through being slashed, hooked, and cross-checked, you can succeed. I know the more I stand my ground, the more I stay there in the areas I need to be in, there will be more scoring opportunities for me and my teammates."
Throw Them a Changeup
Another subtle key to scoring goals is reading your opponent and the flow of the game.
"When you're going against defensemen and goalies, say a 1 v 1, if you change your speed it becomes a lot more difficult for them to stop you,” Cameranesi said. “If you come down the ice at full speed all the time they can easily read that. But if you change your speed all the time it causes them to change, it makes them slow up a little. When that happens, you pick your speed back up or cut to the inside and then out. Changing up your patterns makes it more difficult for goalies and defensemen."
Find the Soft Spots
Play in the offensive zone can often times be chaotic. So sometimes, it’s important for a player to slip in and out of the action to find little pockets of open ice.
"There are times when players have to keep moving their feet. Then there are times when they have to slow down, too, to find that soft spot in the offensive zone,” Cameranesi said. “I know one thing that's really important in the offensive zone is being able to create 2 v 1. The biggest thing is isolating a defenseman and find the soft spot around them. Or think of it as a triangle. We call it the Snow Cone. The person with the puck is the point or tip of the cone and the defender is in the middle part as the snow cone. So, the other forward slips into that open space on the side and forms the triangle to isolate them for a 2 v 1."
Just Keep Shooting
“Honestly, sometimes it is just a matter of getting the puck on net,” Cameranesi said, laughing. “It doesn't have to be a perfect shot or even a great shot. But as long as you get it off and get it on net you give yourself a chance to score and maybe a chance for your teammates, too."