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5 standouts from the first month of NCAA play

With a little over a month of college hockey under our belts, it’s time to look at five players who have been on fire thus far

Kelly Jo Hagenson, Minnesota Athletics

There’s no shortage of talent at the NCAA Division I level this season — between dramatic overtime game winners and unbroken Goaltender of the Month streaks, we’ve got you covered with five of the top performers in the first month of the college hockey season.

Hadley Hartmetz, defender, Boston College

Sophomore Eagle Hadley Hartmetz has put on quite the performance so far this season, tallying a goal and seven helpers for eight points through eight games. She’s been one of the key difference makers for Boston College, helping generate chances and rebuild the Eagles’ confidence as they look to recover from last season. While she may be offensively gifted, her job is defense — and she hasn’t been slacking in that realm either, tied for third in the country in blocked shots with 15. The 5’5” defender, who finished last season with 15 points through 33 games, has already broached the halfway mark of her career high in all categories in just a quarter of the number of games.

Kiara Zanon, forward, Penn State

Kiara Zanon had already made a name for herself before arriving on the collegiate hockey scene — a league-leading 64 points in 35 games with the PWHL’s Kingston Jr. Ice Wolves, a silver medal at the U18 tournament, and the overtime gold medal-clinching goal at the 2020 U18 World Championship will do that for a player. Now, she’s picking up where she left off with the overtime tallies, scoring in overtime to preserve Penn State’s five game win streak last weekend. All in all, Zanon’s currently riding on nine points in six games to kickstart a very impressive freshman campaign with the Nittany Lions.

Lauren Bench, goaltender, Minnesota

There’s no way we could omit Lauren Bench from this list after the Gophers’ bonafide starter retained WCHA Goaltender of the Week honors for three straight weeks. The netminder, who transferred to Minnesota after three seasons with Bemidji State, has put on some incredible performances throughout the first five games of the season, currently sitting in third place in the NCAA with a .965 SV% after facing the fourth most shots in the country (172) — which is no surprise, considering the Gophers had to contend with the stacked forward corps of Minnesota Duluth and Ohio State. While this year’s Border Battle was postponed, there’s no doubt that Bench is helping keep the Gophers steady and competitive as she locks down the back end.

Kalty Kaltounkova, forward, Colgate

Expectations were high for freshman Kalty Kaltounkova coming into this season after her illustrious U18 tenure with the Czech Republic. After two Czech league championships and the honor of the Czech U18 team’s MVP in 2018, she spent three seasons with Vermont Academy and captained the team in her final year. This season, Kaltounkova contributed two of Colgate’s three goals in their late November win over Clarkson (see below), and has dished out a handful of assists along the way as well. She’s turning into a formidable opponent for the Raiders, and is helping Colgate contend at the national level as well as within the ECAC.

Brooke Becker, defender, Providence

Freshman Brooke Becker has had a quietly productive first three series with the Friars, putting up a goal and four assists through five games. Last weekend against Holy Cross, she assisted on both of Providence’s game winners, and contributed a goal in the team’s season opening rout of UConn. While she’s yet to earn any Hockey East honors for her performances, Becker’s is a name you’ll want to keep your eye on going into the rest of the season.