It was announced Thursday that three Gopher Women's Hockey Players have been named finalists for the 2015 Patty Kazmaier Award given out to college hockey's best female player. Selection criteria includes outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Consideration is also given to academic achievement and civic involvement.
One Gopher finalist is junior forward Hannah Brandt. Brandt has been named to the top ten list both of her previous seasons, and was a top-three finalist last season for the Gophers, losing the award to Clarkson's Jamie Lee Rattray. Brandt currently is the second leading scorer in the nation with 62 total points. She is also second in the nation with 35 assists, and tied for third with 27 goals. She also excels i the face-off circle, ranking third with a .660 face-off wining percentage. She was named the WCHA player of the Year in 2013-14, and was the Preseason pick for WCHA POY this season. As only a junior she ranks all time in Gopher history fourth with 126 assists, sixth with 209 points, eighth with 83 goals and tied for ninth with 16 game-winning goals.
The second Gopher finalist is sophomore Dani Cameranesi. Cameranesi's stats are almost as impressive as Brandt's. She ranks fourth in the nation with 55 points, is tied for seventh in the NCAA with 21 goals and ranks third in the nation with 34 assists. She ranks second in the WCHA in points, points per game, goals, goals per game, assists, assists per game, and plus/minus...all behind Brandt. She does lead the WCHA with 13 power-play points and five-game winning goals. She surpassed her freshman year points total in early January.
The third Gopher finalist is senior co-captain Rachel Ramsey. Ramsey ranks second among defensemen in the nation with 31 points, is second among defensemen in assists with 22, and is tied for third in the nation with eight goals among defensemen. She leads the Gopher blue line that averages 1.20 goals against per game. Ramsey will go down as one of the best defensemen to play for the Gophers. She ranks second among all-time Gopher defensemen with 95 career assists, third with 128 career points and fifth with 33 career goals. She needs just five assists in her last few games to become the program's all-time leader among defensemen. Ramsey also ranks third among all-time Gophers with a plus-163 career plus/minus rating and is among the top-25 all-time Gopher scorers with 128 career points.
The rest of the top ten players are an impressive group. Number one ranked Boston College also has three nominees in junior forward and 2014 US Olympian Alex Carpenter, senior defenseman Emily Pfalzer, and junior forward Haley Skarupa. Another name familiar to Gopher fans is North Dakota junior goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie. The rest of the top ten are Northeastern junior forward Kendall Coyne, Cornell senior forward Brianne Jenner, and Boston University and Canadian National Team member senior forward Marie-Philip Poulin.
The three finalists, including the eventual winner, 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 a representative of USA Hockey. The top-3 finalists will be announced on Thursday, March 5, and the winner will be announced Saturday March 21st in conjunction with the NCAA Frozen Four in Minneapolis.
The last time the Frozen Four and Patty Kazmaier ceremony were in Minnespolis was 2013 when Gopher Amanda Kessel won the award, beating two of her teammates in Nora Raty and Megan Bozak. It is quite possible the Gophers could have two of the three finalists this season as well, as Brandt is a shoe-in to be one of the three finalists as well as Carpenter from Boston College who is the nation's leading scorer. The third finalist will be more of a hard decision, but it is definitely possible that Cameranesi could get that third spot.
Good luck to all three Gophers, and hopefully it will be just like 2013 for the Minnesota faithful.