Another set of NWHL award finalists were released today, and again we’ll see a new award winner from last year. The three defenders nominated for Defender of the Year are Buffalo Beauts’ Blake Bolden, Minnesota Whitecaps Amanda Boulier, and Whitecaps Lee Stecklein.
After playing in Switzerland last season, Bolden made her return to the NWHL this season where she made an immediate and obvious impact in Buffalo. She was tied for first in the league in points for defenders with 13 points (1g, 12a) and was fifth on the Beauts in points. Her 12 assists put her in second in the whole league. In her second All Star appearance, Bolden defended her Hardest Shot title.
In the off season, Boulier headed west, leaving Connecticut for Minnesota. She shared the lead for all defenders in the league with 13 points on the season, lead all defenders with five goals, and had a .81 points per game average at the end of the regular season. On the Whitecaps, Boulier was third in points behind only Jonna Curtis and Kendall Coyne Schofield.
In her first season in the NWHL, Stecklein notched nine points (1g, 8a), tying her for second in the league for defenders. Her plus-minus of +12 was the second highest for defenders as well. The 2018 gold medalist was named an All Star captain.
A panel of 20 media members and broadcasters (including myself) voted on the award in cooperation with the Women’s Hockey Media Association.
Last year, the NWHL handed out seven awards. Previous winners of defender of the year are Courtney Burke (Riveters, 17-18), Megan Bozek (Beauts, 16-17), and Gigi Marvin (Pride, 15-16).
The winner will be announced at a date later to be announced, but after the Isobel Cup.