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.
When Jaycee Gebhard first arrived to play collegiate hockey at Robert Morris University, she just wanted to make a difference.
In four years, Gebhard has certainly cemented her legacy at the Pittsburgh-area university, and she will most likely end her career as the all-time leading scorer in program history.
“It’s crazy to think how fast these four years have gone,” Gebhard said. “Coming in, I just wanted to make an impact in whatever way I could. I wasn’t sure, obviously, at the beginning what that impact would be. I’ve played with so many great players at RMU, and that’s kind of the biggest thing.”
A dynamic senior season also has Gebhard in the conversation for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“It’s obviously an honor, but I’ve just been trying to make the most of my senior year,” Gebhard said. “To have my name in that category … there’s just so many great players who are always in the running for it and have won it. I just think it’s a testament to my hard work over the years.”
Robert Morris head coach Paul Colontino has witnessed, first-hand, the work Gebhard has put in throughout her career.
“Obviously, [Gebhard] has been a huge leader for our team the whole four years she’s been here,” Colontino said. “Her practice and game habits, I would put at the top of the country. There aren’t too many people that have the consistency in terms of work ethic and skill day-in and day-out at her level. And when teammates see that every single day, it raises the bar for the entire team.”
Entering weekend games against Lindenwood, Gebhard is three points from tying RMU’s all-time career scoring record. Brittany Howard currently owns the mark with 181 points. Gebhard already passed Howard earlier this season with her 103rd career assist in December for first on the program’s all-time assists list.
“I think sometimes without even knowing it, she has had a huge ripple effect on her team,” Colontino said. “She puts words into action, she gets it done, and when you add up those four years of hard work and consistency, you get where she’s at today.”
Gebhard, who won the College Hockey America (CHA) conference scoring title last year, set a new single-season program record with 51 points as a junior, edging Howard’s 2015-16 mark by one point. Gebhard, last season, also established a single-season school assists record with 32 helpers. She burst onto the scene as a freshman in the 2016-17 season with 22 goals, second-most in single-season program history.
“It’s an honor,” Gebhard said of the RMU records. “I’ve worked hard for it, but I think it’s just me being about to contribute continuously and consistently throughout the years. It’s definitely special to be there.”
Gebhard is also among the nation’s top scorers.
Entering this week, she ranks third in the country with 13 goals and 43 points, which is on pace to break last year’s record-setting single-season mark at RMU. In December, Gebhard was named the Women’s Hockey Commissioners’ Association Player of the Month for November, the third time she earned the national honor in her career. Gebhard had four goals and 16 points, as RMU won seven of eight games during the month.
“It’s been a successful season so far,” Gebhard said. “I think it’s something I pride myself on, contributing consistently every night and being an impact player, and I think this year has been the best year for that.”
It has certainly been the best season to this point for Gebhard, who has not only left her mark at Robert Morris University, but also performed as one of the top forwards in the nation and earned consideration for this year’s Patty Kazmaier Award.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about it,” Gebhard said. “There are so many great players and it definitely means a lot to have my name in the picture and know that my play on the ice is having an impact.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Justin Berl