USA Hockey announced the top three finalists for the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Award on Thursday morning and Minnesota Gooden Gophers senior forward Grace Zumwinkle was one of the three. The Patty Kazmaier Award is given out annually to the top player in women’s college hockey.
Zumwinkle has had an impressive offensive season. She is tied for the NCAA lead with 17 goals and is second in the country in goals per game at 0.85 and game winning goals with four. Her 24 points rank her 8th in the nation. She was named the WCHA Forward of the Month twice this season in November and February.
Zumwikle is the first Gopher to make the Top 10 finalist list since Nicole Schammel did in 2019. She is the first Gopher to make the Top 3 Finalist list since Hannah Brandt did in 2015. And if she would win the award she would be the first Gopher to win it since Amanda Kessel in 2013 and Krissy Wendell before her in 2005.
Zumwikle faces stiff conpetetion for the award. The other two finalists are 2018 winner (for Boston College) and 2021 WCHA Player of the Year Daryl Watts of Wisconsin, and goaltender Aerin Frankel of Northeastern. Watts is first in the nation in points per game (1.79) and goals per game (0.89) and still is in action at the Women’s Frozen Four at least for one more game. Frankel is the best goaltender in the country leading the nation in in goals against average (0.71), save percentage (.969) and shutouts (9), and earlier this week was named the Women’s College Hockey Coaches Association Goaltender of the Year. Frankel would be the first non-forward to win the award since Ann-Renee Desbiens won it for Wisconsin in 2017.
The winner will be announced in a special on NHL Network on Marc 27th.