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.
Entering the season, Lindsay Browning knew the Cornell women’s hockey team had an opening in goal after the graduation of Marlene Boissonnault, the second-winningest goalie in program history and something of a mentor to her.
Browning not only grabbed a stranglehold on the starting job at Cornell, but the junior standout also vaulted to the top of the NCAA leaderboards, and has placed herself in the conversation for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“It’s definitely an honor, but there’s still a lot of other considerations,” Browning said. “My team has been so supportive and they’re making my life easy. It feels like recognizing one individual doesn’t feel like enough for the whole team.”
Browning played in just nine games as a sophomore, ending 4-1-2 with a 1.34 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage. Boissonnault enjoyed national success as the starter, closing her career with 56 wins, No. 2 all-time at Cornell.
“Marlene was a really great mentor to me,” Browning said. “She taught me a lot of what I know now. I knew I had some really big shoes to fill and that drive motivates me every day.”
That motivation has Browning ranked as the top goaltender in the nation in several significant categories. Browning, who is 18-1-2 in 21 starts, is first in the country in goals against average (0.72), first in save percentage (.961) and also tops in the nation with eight shutouts.
“Obviously, if you look at all the stats, she’s been doing well for us,” said Cornell Associate Head Coach Edith Racine. “She’s such a hard worker. She takes pride in doing the little things and I think our defense and forward feel confident playing in front of her. For her, it’s always a team-first mentality.”
Her success can be traced back to the offseason, as Browning was excited for an opportunity to not only become Cornell’s starting goaltender, but also follow Boissonnault’s impressive legacy.
“It definitely motivated me coming into the season, to work extra hard over the summer,” Browning said. “You can never completely be exactly the same person, but I wanted to hopefully get up to [Boissonnault’s] level or somewhere close to where she’s at.”
Browning became the first goalie in program history to open the season with three shutouts and 59 consecutive saves before allowing a goal in Cornell’s fourth game. She’s currently riding a three-game shutout streak with a win against Harvard and a weekend sweep of Colgate.
“I have to give my teammates credit,” Browning said. “The mindset is to do your individual job to the best of your ability and trust your teammates to do their job. I’m just doing my job when it’s necessary.”
Browning has shutouts in four of Cornell’s last five games and has stopped 48 consecutive shots in three straight shutouts leading to Friday’s home game against Clarkson. She has allowed just 15 goals in 21 games, stopping 374 of 389 shots faced this season.
“She keeps it really simple,” said Racine, also the goaltender coach at Cornell. “It’s not about making those big, flashy saves. She puts herself in good situations, so she doesn’t have to do that. She’s learning the game and learning situations.”
Browning is also making her mark on the Cornell record books in her first season as a starter.
Browning’s nine career shutouts has her tied for fifth in school history. She has 22 career wins, tied for eighth all-time at Cornell. Browning’s eight shutouts rank No. 2 all-time in single-season history, while her 18 wins rank fifth.
“She really focuses on the little details and puts a lot of work in day in and day out,” Racine said. “She’s a hard worker and she really prepared and challenged herself every day to make sure that she was ready to roll this season.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Ned Dykes/Cornell Athletics.