USA Hockey announced the Top 10 Finalists for the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award this morning. The award is distributed annually to the best Division I women’s college hockey player in the NCAA, and the winner will be announced virtually on March 27.
This year’s list holds much more variety than last year’s, with seven seniors, two juniors, and a freshman making it into the Top 10. Penn State rookie standout Kiara Zanon is the only underclassman to be named, and her program’s first Top 10 honoree.
Top 10 Finalists
|Skylar Fontaine||Senior||Defender||Northeastern||Hockey East|
|Aerin Frankel||Senior||Goaltender||Northeastern||Hockey East||2020 Top Ten|
|Élizabeth Giguère||Senior||Forward||Clarkson||ECAC||2020 winner, 2019 Top Ten|
|Caitrin Lonergan||Senior||Forward||Clarkson||ECAC||2018 Top Ten|
|Emma Maltais||Senior||Forward||Ohio State||WCHA||2019 Top Ten|
|Alina Müller||Junior||Forward||Northeastern||Hockey East||2019, 2020 Top Ten|
|Sophie Shirley||Junior||Forward||Wisconsin||WCHA||2020 Top Ten|
|Daryl Watts||Senior||Forward||Wisconsin||WCHA||2018 winner, 2018, 2020 Top Ten|
|Kiara Zanon||Freshman||Forward||Penn State||CHA|
The past two years’ winners, Daryl Watts and Élizabeth Giguère, both make it onto the Top 10 one last time as seniors. If either wins, she would be only the second player in the award’s history to win twice, after Harvard’s Jen Botterill took the prize home in 2001 and 2003.
Goaltender Aerin Frankel also makes a strong case for herself and could become only the fourth goaltender to take home the award after leading Hockey East and the entire NCAA in goals against average (0.65), save percentage (0.971), and shutouts (8). She’s competing against two of her teammates in defender Skylar Fontaine and forward Alina Müller, both of whom have equally impressive stat lines this year and have played critical roles in their team’s success.
My sleeper pick for the award is the freshman Zanon, who is tied with Watts for second place in the NCAA in points and is second only to Grace Zumwinkle in game-winning goals. Zanon has been an integral piece on Penn State’s first ever regular season CHA champion squad, and has helped the program to finish the regular season with only its second winning record in program history. While her previous successes on the international stage does not factor into her chances, it’s worth noting that Zanon did have the overtime game-winning goal at the 2020 U-18 Women’s World Championship.
The Top 3 finalists and award winner will be announced at the end of March.