HAMDEN, Conn. – Loren Gabel’s celebratory smile spoke volumes.
The Clarkson University senior joyously clutched the prestigious trophy on Saturday following her selection as the 22nd winner of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award during a lively and occasionally emotion-tinged ceremony.
Gabel, who closed out the regular-season campaign with a nation-leading 34 goals, including nine of the game-winning variety, edged finalists Megan Keller of Boston College and the University of Wisconsin’s Annie Pankowski in the voting.
Previous winners have been a virtual who’s-who of the nation’s leading Division I players, with selections based on their on-ice performances, character and humanitarian contributions to their respective communities.
“It’s a great honor standing up here, compared to Patty and receiving such a prestigious award,” said Gabel, who follows Jamie Lee Rattray (2014) as the second Clarkson player to win the award. “Looking around this room, I consider myself lucky to play the game that we all love, alongside some of the best players and leaders in NCAA Division I hockey. It shows how competitive and skilled our game truly is.”
Gabel proved to be one of the sport’s most dangerous offensive players this season. All the while, she also adheres to a vigorous volunteer schedule. Among her volunteer work is working with the Potsdam Elementary School’s Smart Cookies Enriched Program, the Active Souls project with Special Olympics and the Potsdam Community Outreach Clean-Up, as well as visiting the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
“Helping in the community is a privilege to have what we have,” Gabel said. “Doing community outreach is definitely amazing and helps everyone involved.”
The late Patty Kazmaier’s daughter Serena Veazey opened the program with a perspective on the impact of the award on the current women’s game.
“I'm proud to present (Gabel) with an opportunity that (Kazmaier) might not have had,” Sandt said. “I was 8 years old when the award was founded; I had no idea what she had faced as a pioneer of women’s hockey.”
This year’s finalists epitomized how far the sport has come.
Keller, a 2018 U.S. Olympian, was the nation’s leading scorer among blueliners with 41 points on 18 goals and 23 helpers during the regular season. The Farmington Hills, Mich., native remained active within the community, volunteering at the Perkins School for the Blind, Newton Special Athletes and the Food for Families program.
Pankowski, 2019 Hockey Humanitarian Award finalist, WCHA Player of the Year and now a 2019 NCAA Division I national champion, had 17 goals and 30 assists on the season. She volunteered in excess of 2,000 hours with Occupaws, an organization that raises guide dogs. The Laguna Hills, California, native also became an ardent visitor at UW Children’s Hospital during her time in Madison.
However, it was Gabel who came out atop the voting on Saturday. She finished the regular season with 210 career points, the most of any player in Clarkson history.
“I could not have done without the help of my teammates, coaches and the support staff, they’ve all been incredible and helped my development on and off the ice as a player and person,” Gabel said.
Gabel, who also had a school-record 113 career goals going into the postseason, previously won her second ECAC Hockey Player of the Year Award.
“The way she’s been able to grow as a person and player helped turn her into the player she was this year,” said Clarkson coach Matt Desrosiers. “Her continuous efforts to get better each and every day is what eventually drove her to this point. When she came in as a freshman, she wanted to keep learning and getting better and that’s a big part of the reason why she’s up there with that trophy right now.”
Desrosiers, who directed Clarkson to a program-record 36 wins a year ago, noticed his forward’s penchant for dealing with life challenges.
“She just put her head down and went to work,” he said. “She never felt sorry for herself if things weren't going right. She always came to us and asked us what she needed to do to continue to get better, and that’s something not a lot of people have within them. That shows the kind of growth as a person that she’s developed in her four years here.”
In addition to her individual accomplishments, Gabel led Clarkson to plenty of team success, including four Frozen Fours and national titles in 2017 and 2018.
“Making the Frozen Four four years straight is definitely an honor for our team, and obviously our senior class has been through it all,” Gabel said. “Winning those two national championships—never would I have thought of winning one, let alone two. It’s an unbelievable accomplishment that's indescribable.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.