Each year, the USA Hockey Foundation presents the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award to the top player in the NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey. Since the award’s inception in 1998, only two goaltenders, Alie Brewer of Brown University (1998) and Jessie Vetter of Wisconsin (2009), have ever won the award. While goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens from Wisconsin was a finalist for the award in 2016, forward Kendall Coyne from Northeastern University was presented with the honor. However, with the goaltending skill and depth in the NCAA that spans rookies and rising seniors, it is no wonder that some speculate that 2016 would see the Patty Kazmaier presented to a goaltender.
Matt Kelly, a former goaltender at Wayne State College and current head scout for USA Hockey’s women’s national team, commenting on the breadth of goaltending talent at the end of the 2015-16 season, noted, “If I was to take, let’s say, the top 10 goalies, how do you get it down to five? There’s so many. Give me your top five. Well, my top five could be different from five other people’s ... Every one is good, and they’re good for their own reasons.”
As the in-net talent only continues to grow in the NCAA, it is past due for a netminder to receive the Patty Kazmaier award, with top prospects including Ann-Renee Desbiens from the University of Wisconsin, Sydney Rossman from Quinnipiac and Katie Burt from Boston College.
University of Wisconsin: Ann-Renee Desbiens
On Friday, Oct. 28, the Wisconsin Badgers’ goaltender earned her 42nd career shutout against Minnesota State. Desbiens stopped all 14 shots faced from the Mavericks to earn her fourth shutout of the 2016-17 season. While UW outshot Minnesota State 37-14, with some top scorers lighting the lamp in their 3-1 victory, Desbiens consistently demonstrated outstanding ability between the pipes. Associate head coach Dan Koch stated, “We've been fortunate over the years to have great goaltending. It gives all of our players a lot of confidence with the puck, knowing that if something should happen, that Ann is back there to make the stop.”
Indeed, Desbiens finished the 2015-16 season with a 33-4-1 record. She managed to shut out opponents in 21 games and recorded a .552 percent shutout rate. Setting the NCAA record for consecutive shutout minutes at 543:53, U.S. College Hockey Online picked her as the WCHA player of 2016. Desbiens also helped propel her team to the Frozen Four, where the Badgers suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to Minnesota. Beginning the new season ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com Division I Women's Poll, the Badgers look for another strong season backed by their exceptional goaltending talent.
Ohio State University: Kassidy Sauvé
While Wisconsin sits at the top of both the WCHA and the NCAA polls, Ohio State finished the 2015-16 season last in the WCHA with a record of 10-25-1. The statistics are not stacked in Ohio’s favor, but the return of goaltender Kassidy Sauvé offers hope to a team struggling to advance in the standings. After missing two seasons due to hip surgery, Sauvé is quickly gaining recognition in the NCAA. During just her first month back in net, Sauvé was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week twice. Impressively, Sauvé posted a .953 save percentage through her first eight games.
During a recent loss to No. 2 Minnesota on Oct. 22, Sauvé made 55 saves, allowing only two goals. While setting a new career high, Sauvé remains near the top of the national rankings in both save percentage and goals against. On Sauvé’s goaltending talent, OSU head coach Nadine Muzerall stated, “She’s an All-American goalie, she’s fantastic. She’s averaging about 50 shots against per game and she’s taking those shots from future Olympians and All-Americans. We’ve played the number one, two, and eight-ranked teams, so she’s seen the best of the best.”
Quinnipiac University: Sydney Rossman
With an 8-0 win over Brown University over the weekend, goaltender Sydney Rossman earned her sixth shutout of the season, improving her overall 2016-17 season record to 7-2-1. Rossman’s outstanding play early in the new season is no surprise given her previous season’s statistics: during the 2015-16 season, Rossman set the program record for fewest goals allowed (35), lowest GAA (0.90), and most wins (30). Rossman’s .949 save percentage was the second-highest in program history, and her 16 shutouts are now tied for the most in program history, as well as the third most in NCAA women's ice hockey history. Rossman was also named the ECAC hockey goaltender of the year.
As if these impressive accolades were not enough, Rossman is already shattering her own records during the start of the new season. On October 24, Rossman made a career-high 38 saves to earn her fifth shutout in a scoreless tie against Boston College. Rossman’s outstanding goaltending is a key component to the QU Women’s team being ranked No. 4 nationally in USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Women’s Hockey Poll and No. 5 overall in the latest USCHO.com Division I Women's Poll.
Clarkson University: Shea Tiley
Tiley finished the 2015-16 season with both ECAC Hockey Goaltender and Rookie of the Year honors following a .939 save percentage, a 1.40 goals against average, and nine shutouts in 38 games. Tiley is currently second in the ECAC for most saves (232) and boasts a 6-3-1 record, starting in all 10 games this season.
Recently, Tiley helped Clarkson shut out Harvard in the first ECAC matchup of the season. Tiley made 20 saves to assist her team in a 4-0 win, marking Tiley’s first shutout of the 2016-17 season. Following the strong team win, Tiley once again made an impressive 19 saves against Dartmouth in a 6-1 victory, helping CU advance to 6-3-1 overall and 2-0-0 in conference play. Tiley is no doubt looking ahead to CU’s first matchup against ECAC rival Quinnipiac. This Nov. 4 game will pit two fantastic goaltenders — Tiley and Rossman — against one another in their first meeting of the 2016-17 season.
Boston College: Katie Burt
Following Boston College’s series win against No. 3 Quinnipiac last weekend, goaltender Katie Burt, who allowed just a single goal in the two games, was recognized as Warrior Hockey East Player of the Week. Burt recorded 13 shutouts and a 1.23 GAA during the 2015-16 season, and she begins the third year of her collegiate career having never lost a game in Hockey East regular-season play (36-0-1). Impressively, she is also the conference’s overall career and active career leader in GAA (0.91) and save percentage (.952), and the NCAA’s career leader in winning percentage (.929)
With a current record of 5-2-2, Burt has helped BC to top the Hockey East standings with a current overall record of 6-2-2. Burt will be looking for another pair of wins in an upcoming series against Boston University starting on Nov. 4 before heading into conference matchups against New Hampshire and Northeastern.
Northeastern Univeristy: Brittany Bugalski
Goaltender Brittany Bugalski posted a 2.22 GAA and a .918 save percentage during her first season with the Huskies, while notching three shutouts and a 20-8-1 record. Starting the 2016-17 season with a 6-2-1 record, Bugalski has been named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week for two weeks in a row. With over 424 minutes in net this season, the sophomore goaltender owns a 1.41 GAA (12th in the NCAA) and a .945 save percentage (9th in the NCAA). With a .82 GAA in six games, Bugalski has also earned three shutouts.
Bugalski should prove a tough matchup for BC’s Burt. Currently ranked No. 2 behind BC in the Hockey East standings, Northeastern will be anxiously looking for a win against BC on Nov. 20. With two exceptionally talented, young goaltenders in net, the upcoming in-conference series will be one of the most exciting goalie battles of the season.
Robert Morris University: Jessica Dodds
Jessica Dodds, RMU’s all-time wins leader (45), started the 2016-17 season with two wins, three ties and no losses. Dodds has been extremely important to the Colonials as a record-holding, and record-breaking, goaltender. Along with being the all-time wins leader, Dodds holds the record for the most shutouts (11), and is second in saves only to Brianna McLaughlin. Dodds posted a 15-13-4 record last season, with five shutouts, and holds a 2.14 career goals against average and .923 save percentage. RMU finished last season third in the conference with a 17-16-5 record. Dodds, one of 19 returning players from the 2015-16 roster, is one of the key components to RMU’s goal of advancing in the standings during the new season.
Already off to a strong start, Dodds was named CHA Goaltender of the Week on Oct. 10 after making 26 saves against RPI to force the 1-1 game to overtime. With a 6-1-3 record to start the season, RMU is currently on top of the CHA standings. RMU will look to keep their in-conference record, currently 2-0, unblemished against Syracuse on Dec. 4.
Mercyhurst University: Sarah McDonnell
As a freshman during the 2015-16 season, Sarah McDonnell played 29 games and recorded and impressive 17-6-5 record. McDonnell’s 1.75 GAA and .919 save percentage helped Mercyhurst finish their season first in conference with an overall record of 19-11-5. McDonnell was awarded the College Hockey America Goaltender Trophy for the best goals against average in conference play (1.29).
Despite McDonnell’s standout freshman year, Mercyhurst’s current overall record is 1-6-1, with McDonnell playing in only three of those games. Given that it is early in the season, there is plenty of time for McDonnell to excel during her sophomore year and help her team once more clinch the CHA regular season title for the 15th straight year.