As the NCAA goes on holiday break, it is a great time to look at who might be considered for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the best college hockey player.
Daryl Watts - sophomore, forward, Boston College
Last season’s Patty Kazmaier winner has slightly come down to earth after her meteoric freshman season. She’s averaging a point per game with 11 goals in 20 games, off pace from last season’s 82 points in 38 games. The Eagles struggles are probably impacting her. Look for her to be in the conversation, and probably top 10, but most likely not repeat.
Loren Gabel - senior, forward, Clarkson
Top three last season
She currently sits third in nation in points at 32, but also has only played in 16 games so far, two games short of the rest of her team. Combined with Elizabeth Giguere and Michaela Pejzlova, the line is one of the most explosive in the nation. Gabel is a serious contender to win, at least make the top three again.
Elizabeth Giguère - sophomore, forward, Clarkson
So far, Giguère is proving there’s no such thing as a sophomore slump. After a freshman campaign that in which she put up 71 points (27g, 44a) in 41 games and scored the national championship-winning goal in overtime, the Canadian sophomore is on pace to beat her numbers with 35 points in 18 games. She’s leading the NCAA in points, while also staying out of the box again with only 10 penalty minutes.
Annie Pankowski - senior, forward, Wisconsin
Top 10 finalist in 2016 and 2017
Pankowski didn’t play last season after centralizing for Team USA but being cut. The senior has 14 goals in 18 games — putting her in a three-way tie for the third most goals in the nation. She’s currently on a hot streak. She’ll be — at least — a Top 10 finalist this season.
Megan Keller - senior, defender, BC
Top 10 finalist in 2016 and 2017
With nine goals on the season, Keller leads the nation in goals as a defender. She is on pace to match her numbers from before she won an Olympic gold medal. I’d expect her to be in the Top 10 for the third year, if not top 3 and winner.
Kelly Pannek - senior, forward, Minnesota
Top 10 finalist in 2017
Pannek is averaging a point per game thus far. She’s a bit off her insane junior season in 2016-17 of 62 points in 39 names, but on pace with her freshman and sophomore season numbers. The gold medalist will probably be in the Top 10 again this season.
Sarah Potomak - junior, forward, Minnesota
Top 10 finalist in 2017
Potomak missed last season after centralizing with Canada then being cut. Injuries have kept her off the ice this season as well. She’s got eight points in 14 games.
Caitrin Lonergan - junior, forward, BC
Top 10 finalist last season
She’s had a bit of a rough season thus far after looking so good last year. She’s got 19 points in 18 games thus far. Lonergan’s looked better in the last few games, though I’m not sure if she’ll be in the same sphere as she was last season.
Jaycee Gebhard - junior, forward, Robert Morris
At 33 points in 22 games, Gebhard is a strong leader for Robert Morris. She sits second in the nation in points and on pace to match her freshman year totals. She got a look from Hockey Canada over the summer during the three-game series against the US with the developmental team.
Aerin Frankel - sophomore, goaltender, Northeastern
Frankel’s numbers should put her in line for consideration. Her save % is an eye-watering .964 — higher than Ann-Renée Desbiens’ .963 the year Desbiens won the Patty Kaz, and Frankel doesn’t have Wisconsin’s stifling defence to help her. But this is probably not Frankel’s year honestly, not just because she’s a goalie — she splits the crease with senior Brittany Bugalski and it would be unprecedented for a goalie to win the Patty Kaz playing only 52% of her team’s minutes, as Frankel has to date. The committee may feel that Frankel’s time is after Bugalski graduates at the end of this season.
Other possible candidates include:
- Michaela Pejzlová - junior, forward, Clarkson: Gabel and Giguère’s usual linemate is no slouch herself. She’s fifth in the country in points scored per game played. At the start of December, Gabel, Giguère and Pejzlová held the top three positions in that stat.
- Maureen Murphy - sophomore, forward, Providence College: Murphy is fourth in the country in points scored per game played and appears to be on the senior national team radar for the US.
- Alina Müller - freshman, forward, Northeastern: Coming off her dominant performance at the Olympics, is leading the country in scoring by a freshman.
- Chloé Aurard - freshman, forward, Northeastern: Müller’s linemate at Northeastern, a key factor in France’s promotion to the top tier in international hockey, and second only to Müller in freshman scoring.
- Abby Roque - junior, forward, Wisconsin: Wisconsin is having the kind of dominant year that often leads to multiple nominations, but it’s hard to point to a star other than Pankowski in the lineup. Roque is a hair behind Pankowski in points per game and producing solidly.
- Emma Maltais - sophomore, forward, OSU: Maltais was the third highest scoring freshman last year, after Watts and Giguère, and has stepped up her production this year.
- Jessie Compher - sophomore, forward, BU: Compher was under the radar last year at BU, with Victoria Bach and Rebecca Leslie the superstars on that team, but this year she’s been impossible to ignore. She’s in a virtual tie for points per game with Giguère and has been the engine of BU’s unexpectedly strong season.
- Jincy Dunne - redshirt junior, defender, OSU: Dunne was the youngest player to centralize in 2014, and had concussion issues after that. Her experiences have caused her to emerge as an acknowledged leader on the team and the fourth-highest scoring defender in the nation. Will this be enough to get her attention from a committee that sometimes seems to rely heavily on the stats?
- TT Cianfarano - senior, forward, Clarkson: Cianfarano was in the national team picture for some time, but missed her senior year at Qunnipiac and chose to play her extra year’s eligibility as a graduate student at Clarkson, nearer her home town of Oswego. She’s been outstanding on special teams for Clarkson but her production has been a little overshadowed by that of Clarkson’s amazing top line./