The USA Hockey Foundation announced the three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award on February 28. The award is given to the best female collegiate ice hockey player in the United States, and will be presented at the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four tournament.
Among the three finalists are two draft picks of the Buffalo Beauts; first round pick Megan Keller of Boston College and second round choice Loren Gabel. The last Patty Kaz winner to play for the Beauts was Meghan Duggan in the inaugural 2015-16 season.
Players are nominated and voted on by NCAA Division I coaches, with votes tabulated by an independent agency. Past winners include NWHL stars like Kendall Coyne-Schofield and Amanda Kessel.
Keller, who also learned she’ll join US Women’s National Team at the IIHF World Championships, is considered to be the top defensive prospect in the US. She has 42 points (19 goals, 23 assists) in 32 games for the Eagles this season, and 157 points (45G, 112A) in 142 NCAA games.
Keller’s 42 points this season are a Hockey East record for a defender, and she is top-15 in the country among all skaters. She’s the first blue liner to be nominated since 2013.
Gabel’s offensive production is the pinnacle of D-1 women’s hockey this season. Her 62 points are second only to teammate Elizabeth Giguère, but Gabel’s 1.887 points per game bests Giguère. She has 35 goals - the best in the nation, and an incredible nine game-winning goals.
Her accomplishments earned her a spot on Hockey Canada’s 2018 Four Nations Cup roster. She played in five games and contributed a goal and an assist.
In four years at Clarkson, she’s managed two national championships, alongside Beauts’ rookie of the year Savannah Harmon. She’s scored 206 points (111G, 95A)
This is Gabel’s second consecutive final-three nomination for the Patty Kaz. The diminutive sniper has proven herself to be one of the best players in the world, and this award would be a feather in the cap of quite an accomplished athlete. After her selection in the draft, Gabel told the press, “It is an honor to be drafted to the Buffalo Beauts. This is an amazing organization and I am excited for what the future holds for me as a professional hockey player.”
It will surely be a tight race for the award, which will be presented on March 23. The finalists are each incredible representatives of the sport, their school, and their individual positions. As the Beauts prepare to wrap up the regular season, surely general manager and head coach Cody McCormick will be keeping an eye on these awe-inspiring prospects.