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USA Hockey names Patty Kazmaier Award Top-3 finalists

Minnesota’s Taylor Heise, Ohio State’s Sophie Jaques, and Minnesota Duluth’s Gabbie Hughes named finalists for the award for the best Division I women’s college hockey player finalists for the be

COLLEGE HOCKEY: DEC 03 Womens - Minnesota at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

USA Hockey announced the Top-3 finalists for the annual Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given to the best Division I women’s college hockey player of the season.

Forwards Taylor Heise and Gabbie Hughes and defender Sophie Jaques make up the Top-3 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given annually to the best women’s college hockey player in Division I. It is just the third time in the award’s history that all three finalists have competed in the same conference, with Heise suiting up for Minnesota, Jaques for Ohio State, and Hughes for Minnesota Duluth.

Throughout the course of the 2021-22 season, Minnesota’s Heise finished second in the national scoring race behind Maureen Murphy, with 29 goals to her name. Her 1.69 points-per-game average was good for first in the country. She led the Gophers with 66 points this season, and was a key contributor to the team’s penalty kill — as evidenced by her five shorthanded goals.

Jaques set program records right and left with Ohio State this season. Her 59 points (21 goals and 38 assists) are good for third in the nation among all skaters, and first among defenders. Her points-per-game average (59 in 36 games) puts her just behind Heise. She also played a critical role on the Buckeyes’ power play, registering 11 points on the skater advantage, which is second in the nation.

Hughes tied Jaques with 59 points this season, a career-best stat line from the Bulldogs forward. She sits in second nationally with 7 game-winners. While the award is for regular season play, Hughes notably scored the first hat trick of her collegiate career in Minnesota Duluth’s 4-0 win over Harvard in the national regional semifinals.

Now, let’s get into it.

Snubs

Gabs Fundaro: I didn’t really expect for this to happen, but I think it would have been super fun to see Theresa Schafzahl work her way into the top-three. For all the talk about Maureen Murphy missing out on a nomination, Schafzahl actually had her beat on goals per game average when the top-10 list came out; she ended the season at 0.86 per game. And it’s disappointing to know that Alina Müller has officially played four years of college hockey without winning this award.

Anne Tokarski: There was a lot of discussion online about Aerin Frankel’s omission, and I tend to agree with that discourse a little bit. That being said, there isn’t a player I’d remove from the list of Top-3 finalists in favor of Frankel; they all deserve to be a finalist due to some outstanding seasons. I also have to agree with Gabs, as I am wont to do: seeing Theresa Schafzahl as a Top-3 finalist would be huge, and I think Alina Müller’s omission from the Top-3 was a quirk that had to do with it being an Olympic year, etc.

Favorite to Win

Gabs Fundaro: I would probably peg Heise as the favorite, mostly because she’s a forward, and that’s who this award tends to go to. But personally, I favor the case for Jaques. She’s been outstanding for the Bucks and is so important in the execution of their game plan, beyond showcasing elite skill on an individual level.

Anne Tokarski: If we’re talking the general favorite to win, you have to go with Heise. Despite incredible performances from Jaques and Hughes, I think forwards tend to be favored more in the selection process because their on-ice contributions are a little more tangible. That being said, Jaques has had a record-breaking season, and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see her become the second defender (after Angela Ruggiero) to win the award.