Halfway Kaz: Mid-season Patty Kazmaier Award hopefuls

At the unofficial halfway point of the season, who stands out as a hopeful for the NCAA’s top prize?

As most teams wind down for finals season, we thought it was a good time to look at some standouts from the first half of the year. With so many talented players it was hard to pick who we think will win the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the top female hockey player in the NCAA every year, but we narrowed it down to five individuals who have stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Victoria Bach, Forward, Boston University

Simply put, Victoria Bach has been the best goal scorer in the country since the beginning of November. She has tallied THREE hat tricks since Nov. 17, with two of those games featuring four-goal performances. Bach’s 23 goals are the most in the country, and she has been instrumental in the Terriers clawing back to relevance. Since her first hat trick against Vermont, BU has a 5-3-1 record.

Bach was a pre-season favorite to win the Patty Kazmaier given her track record of success and her expected role as the top forward on BU, so it should come as no surprise that she is on this list. There are likely doubts that VB12 can continue this production into 2018, but we are talking about someone who has scored three hat tricks in three weeks. Anything is possible. Should the goals keep pouring out, there is no doubt she can be a Patty Kazmaier finalist.

Elizabeth Giguere, Forward, Clarkson

We talked a bit about Elizabeth Giguere earlier in the year as one of the top freshmen in the country, and she has continued to impress every step of the way. Some of you might pause and ask why Giguere and not her linemates, Loren Gabel or Michaela Pejzlova, and you would have a point. All three are top-10 in points and goals, and Gabel and Giguere are top-five in assists, but Giguere is stepping in and filling the shoes of Cayley Mercer, an ECAC Player of the Year, All-American, and Patty Kaz finalist.

Giguere has 14 goals and 21 assists and currently sits one point back of her linemate Gabel for the team lead. She has established her ability to play the entire offensive zone and use her size and speed as well as hockey sense to create scoring chances. Giguere is on our list because losing Mercer was the biggest problem facing Clarkson, but Giguere’s production has destroyed any doubts about the Golden Knights.

Brittany Howard, Forward, Robert Morris

Robert Morris is the class of the CHA and made a big splash when they upset No. 5 Ohio State. We should probably say “when Brittany Howard upset OSU.” Not only did she score the game tying goal late in the third on one of the most creative plays from the NCAA this year, but she followed it up with a pick-your-corner-and-rip snipe from the high slot to give the Colonials a 3-2 win and keep them on everyone’s radar heading into 2018.

Howard is ninth in the country in points (28) and fourth in goals (17), and basically IS Robert Morris. When you talk about a player who elevates her entire team to another level, it is disingenuous not to immediately mention Howard. If this award goes to the player that provides the most value to her team, Howard must be considered.

If the Colonials make the NCAA tournament and advance to the Frozen Four, it will be because of Howard’s continued heroics.

Daryl Watts, Forward, Boston College

Simply put, Watts has been incredible this entire season. She has been scoring at an unparalleled rate and has stolen the spotlight every single weekend since the season started for the Eagles. Watts is first in the country in points (47) and second in goals (22) and assists (25). She has won various Rookie of the Month and Player of the Month awards. The Eagles have been one of the best teams in the nation. And there are zero signs of her slowing down.

Watts even said recently that she is still adjusting to the college game. What is she going to look like once she does adjust? Frankly, we have no clue.

The biggest things Watts has going against her case are 1) she is a freshman, and 2) she plays on a top-three team in the nation. But none of that really matters when she is averaging nearly 2.5 points per game. And no, we are not going to make a pun about Watts being electric. Let BC Interruption do that.

Kristen Campbell, Goaltender, Wisconsin

You thought we forgot about the West, didn’t you? You should see the look on your face right now. Priceless.

Among goaltenders with more than 10 GP, she leads the nation in save percentage (.948) and is second in shutouts (6). She has also played the most minutes in the country, clocking in at 1315:09. The Badgers are allowing ONE goal per game this season, which is a staggeringly low number — but is the major key to their success this year.

Some of you might be having a bit of deja vu right now, and that is understandable. The Patty Kazmaier award went to a Wisconsin goaltender last season, Ann-Renée Desbiens. We have to think Campbell coming in and doing what last season’s Patty Kaz winner did is worthy of admiration.

Honorable Mentions

There are a lot of players we did not get to on this list, including players like Taylor Moreland and Tereza Vanisova who are doing great things and bringing their teams to relevance. We did not mention any of the top defensemen in the country, like Toni Ann Miano or Sophie Skarzynski (who technically plays forward and defense), or some of the other top goaltenders like Shea Tiley.

We are a few months away from the Patty Kaz Top 10 announcement, and between now and then anything can happen. For now, we get to have fun and speculate as to who may be on that list.