An award of The USA Hockey Foundation, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey. The 2020 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner will be announced on March 21 in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Frozen Four in Boston, Mass. More event information will be announced at a later date.
Senior forward Abby Roque has her Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team in the hunt for a second consecutive national championship.
Roque’s stellar play also has the standout in the conversation for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“I think it’s good to have that kind of consistency and to be in the conversation as one of the best female hockey players,” Roque said. “It’s just great to know that I’m putting my best foot forward for the team and getting this consideration.”
Roque, the 2019 WCHA Forward of the Year, is among the nation’s scoring leaders. The Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., native has already established a career-best mark in goals and she’s also on her way to a personal best in points.
“It’s honestly an honor,” she said. “There are so many great players who have been nominated and who have won the [Patty Kazmaier Award]. Just to be considered, and to be in that group, especially this year with the competition throughout the NCAA is really special.”
Roque’s accomplishments have opened up opportunities to represent USA Hockey, as seen in her selection to the 23-player roster of the U.S. Women’s National Team that faced Canada in the first two games of the 2019-20 Rivalry Series in December.
“It’s obviously a bit of a leap because you’re playing with the best players in the world,” Roque said. “Our team at Wisconsin is amazing and they challenge me every day in practice and games, but there’s an adjustment. Playing those games, it’s exciting, it’s fast and a great rivalry with Canada.”
Roque made her presence felt, scoring a goal in both of the Rivalry Series games. That helped the U.S. to a 4-1 victory in Hartford, Conn., and a 2-1 win in Moncton, New Brunswick. Roque’s backhander gave the U.S. a 3-1 lead in the opening game of the Rivalry Series, while her tally in the first four minutes of the second game set the tone for a one-goal victory.
“I was just focusing on my game, making sure I was doing my job and I was lucky enough to have two goals go in,” Roque said. “It was really cool and it was better that we won both games.”
Roque carried her momentum from the Rivalry Series back to Wisconsin where she was named the WCHA Forward of the Month for December.
“It obviously helps boost your confidence when you know you can go out and you’re capable of playing with the elite,” Roque said. “I just wanted to make sure I took those learning opportunities back to my game at Wisconsin.”
It’s worked for the second-ranked Badgers, who boast a line featuring Roque, Sophie Shirley — 2019 WCHA Rookie of the Year — and Daryl Watts, the 2018 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner while playing for Boston College. The trio is the top offensive line in women’s college hockey, scoring more than 58 goals in 24 games.
“It’s obviously really fun because they’re both super talented players,” Roque said. “When we’re clicking it can be really special. They create great scoring opportunities and that’s something we’ll need, especially, as we enter the playoffs.”
Roque is just outside the top 10 in school history in points, while she’s closing in on the No. 7 spot in career assists. Roque became only the eighth player in Wisconsin with more than 100 assists. She would like to add a second consecutive national championship and the Patty Kazmaier Award — which would make her the sixth winner in school history — to that list.
“It’s my senior season and I want to make it my best one yet,” Roque said. “I want to be able to do all I can do for this team and make sure we’re winning. Making sure that I bumped up my game this year was key for me just so I can help the team as much as I can.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo courtesy of David Stluka