To kick off our Top 25 Under 25, we have Joe Barbito writing about Czech star Denisa Krizova. You can see our updated T25U25 list here.
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Krizova has brought a European flair to the Northeastern Huskies over the past three seasons. Most of that time has been spent playing alongside and against some of the best talent in the NCAA. Krizova has competed for Beanpots, Women’s Hockey East titles, and in the NCAA tournament, as well as participating in international matches for her home country.
Krizova was drafted in the fourth round (13th overall) of the 2017 NWHL Draft by the Connecticut Whale, after several of her contemporaries within the WHEA. In her three years at Northeastern she had amassed more points than any other WHEA player selected in this year’s NWHL draft. Her 139 career points puts her at the top of all Huskies entering her senior year, a season where she will have the opportunity to cement herself as one of the best skaters in recent NU memory.
Certainly one of the most dynamic players on the ice at any given time, she has found herself at the center of many exciting plays on Huntington Avenue and beyond.
Here’s a play from January 2016 when she skated on a line with Olympian Kendall Coyne. Krizova has always been a very smart hockey mind and consistently finds herself in positions to make plays and read defenses. Granted, Krizova had Coyne setting her up, but she still displayed the mindfulness to read the sleeping defense and tap home a sweet goal.
Another display of Krizova’s hockey IQ — her breakaway goal against Providence in February exhibited her ability to get ahead of the entire play, collect the puck, and finish.
Finally, her net-front ability is underrated. At 5-foot-5, Krizova is not an imposing presence, but here she causes havoc by blocking the goaltender and putting the loose puck home.
Krizova’s freshman season set the tone for her NCAA career, finishing with 13 goals and 22 assists to total the second-most points on Northeastern. She was unanimously selected to the WHEA Pro-Ambitions All-Rookie Team and was later named to the USCHO All-Rookie Team.
Her sophomore season was another sensational year as she amassed 59 points, which led all sophomores in the nation. Also during that season, Krizova competed for the Czech Republic National Team in the Five Nations tournament. At the end of that season she would be named to the WHEA Second-Team All-Stars.
With scoring down across the conference in 2016-17, Krizova still totaled 44 points and landed on the WHEA Second-Team All-Stars yet again. Her 100th career point came on Oct. 8, 2016, and she climbed to 139 to become the 10th-highest point scoring Husky in history.
The Connecticut Whale selected Denisa with the 13th overall pick in this year’s NWHL Draft, indicating they believe she can be a professional after she finishes her time at Northeastern. Both of her linemates from her outstanding 15-16 season (Coyne and Hayley Scamurra) were drafted, and Scamurra was part of the Buffalo Isobel Cup run in 2017. It would follow that the third component of that line could also have a bright future ahead of her in the NWHL.
Krizova will likely continue to play for the Czech Republic, as she is regularly one of the top performers on that team in international competitions, including the Five Nations tournament and the Olympic qualifiers this past year.
As for the Huskies, Krizova found new chemistry last season with fellow NWHL draft pick McKenna Brand, who had a breakout year in 16-17. There’s some pretty clear accomplishments Krizova had this season, including winning a Beanpot and WHEA title as well as another NCAA Tournament run. Individually, she has a chance to become one of the top five point scorers in school history. If she repeats her worst season (her freshman season when she scored 35 points) she would tie Tina Cardinale for fourth most of all Huskies.
The sky is the limit for Krizova, and her senior campaign will be one of the most exciting single player seasons in the NCAA this year.
Is this ranking too high or too low?
Krizova comes into this list at age 22 and with only three high-level seasons under her belt. Many of the athletes ahead of her come in with more time in college and some professional seasons to their name. Being on this list is an accomplishment for the Czech star, and she will be able to climb the ranks in the future.
Her status as an NCAA athlete with no Olympic play has definitely diminished her visibility, and if more saw her on a regular basis she would definitely place higher than 25. With more eyes on her after this list, and her exceptional first three collegiate years, stay tuned for a massive jump next season.