Former winners Watts, Giguère named finalists for 2021 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as top NCAA women’s hockey player

Daryl Watts, then with Boston College, won the Patty Kazmaier Award as a freshman back in 2018. She is now a senior at Wisconsin and a 2021 nominee (photo: USA Hockey).

The USA Hockey Foundation on Thursday announced the 10 finalists for the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.

The honor, which began in 1998, is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s hockey.

The finalists (in alphabetical order) are: Northeastern senior defender Skylar Fontaine, Northeastern senior goaltender Aerin Frankel (Northeastern), Clarkson senior forward Élizabeth Giguère, Clarkson senior forward Caitrin Lonergan, Ohio State senior forward Emma Maltais, Northeastern junior forward Alina Müller, Wisconsin junior forward Sophie Shirley, Wisconsin senior forward Daryl Watts, Penn State freshman forward Kiara Zanon and Minnesota senior forward Grace Zumwinkle.

Giguère was the 2020 winner.

The selection process commenced earlier this month when NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey coaches were asked to nominate players for the award. Players who were nominated by multiple coaches were then placed on an official ballot, which was returned to the coaches to vote for the 10 finalists. The independent accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, tabulated the ballots.

The three finalists, including the recipient of the 2021 award, will be chosen by a 13-person selection committee made up of NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey coaches, representatives of print and broadcast media, an at-large member and representative of USA Hockey. The top-three finalists will be announced on Thursday, March 18.

The presentation of the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is scheduled for Saturday, March 27. More details around the unveiling will be shared soon.

The award is named in honor of the late Patty Kazmaier, who was a four-year varsity letter-winner and All-Ivy League defenseman at Princeton from 1981 to 1986. An accomplished athlete who helped lead the Tigers to the Ivy League championship in three consecutive seasons (1981-84), Patty Kazmaier-Sandt died Feb. 15, 1990, at the age of 28 following a long struggle with a rare blood disease.