The 2020 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner will be announced on Friday (March 27) at 1:30 p.m. ET. on USA Hockey's YouTube and Facebook channels. 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.
A first-time summer appearance with the U.S. Under-22 Women’s Select Team boosted Aerin Frankel into a standout season at Northeastern, a feature role with the U.S. Women’s National Team in December and recognition as one of the top players in women’s college hockey.
For the second straight season, Frankel is in the discussion for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
This year is particularly special to Frankel.
“It’s obviously a huge honor to even be in the conversation at all,” Frankel said. “I think it really speaks not just about me, but about our team in general. I think I’m a little bit more mature than I was my freshman and sophomore years and I see the game a bit differently. With my team’s support, I’ve been able to have one of my better seasons.”
It all started in August when Frankel was named to the U.S. Under-22 Women’s Select Team for the first time. The team competed in a pair of three-game sets against Canada in August at Lake Placid, New York.
“I think it was a great intro to the season,” Frankel said. “I had just played with and practiced against some of the best players in college for two weeks, so it gave me a new confidence going into the season. I was comfortable playing at that level and I think it gave me reassurance for my play in our league and the NCAA in general.”
It showed early in the season when Frankel earned Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honors in October and November. She was also named the Hockey East and Women’s Hockey Commissioners Association (WHCA) National Goaltender of the Month for November.
“I’m probably focusing the most I ever have on just taking it game-by-game and not getting too high or low after getting a shutout or maybe not having one of my best games,” Frankel said. “I’m trying to stay in the moment, even more so than I have in the past. I think that has helped.”
Frankel leads the country with a .959 save percentage and eight shutouts, allowing 26 goals in just 25 games. She has 21 wins and carries a 1.06 goals-against average, both second-best in the nation.
Frankel is in position to break several Northeastern single-season records this year, including shutouts, wins, save percentage and goals-against average. She’s currently third all-time at Northeastern with 17 career shutouts.
“Aerin has had an amazing season up to this point and has proven to be a top goaltender in the NCAA,” Northeastern coach Dave Flint said. “She gives our team a lot of confidence and whenever a team has confidence in their goalie, they can play more relaxed. Aerin gives us the chance to win every night.”
Frankel received another boost of confidence in December when she was selected to the U.S. Women’s National Team for the first time and was on the roster for the first two games of the 2019-20 Rivalry Series.
“It was an awesome experience and obviously an honor to be selected for that,” Frankel said. “It was really fun playing with some of the best players … players I’ve watched my whole life and ones I’ve looked up to. Getting to be on the ice with them was super cool for me, it was humbling and I think, in general, it was a great learning experience for me because I was able to compare myself to some of the best players.”
The highlight came on Dec. 17 when Frankel backstopped the U.S. to a 2-1 victory against Team Canada during the second game of the Rivalry Series in Moncton, New Brunswick. Frankel stopped 27 of 28 shots faced in the victory.
“The atmosphere was crazy in Canada,” Frankel said. “The rink was packed, it was a really close game and it was a ton of fun to be part of. I was a little nervous going into it, but as the game went on, I settled in and kind of relied on my strengths. I had a great team in front of me, but the two weeks were just super fun in general because I made a lot of friends, learned a lot about myself as a player and what I need to do in the future to get even better.”
It’s been part of a year of rapid growth and improvement for Frankel, whose confidence has soared throughout her junior season, placing the standout goaltender among the best women’s college hockey players in the nation.
“I see Aerin improving every day,” Flint said. “She works extremely hard on and off the ice. I think her recent experience with the national team has given her some confidence and has elevated her game to another level. She is fun to watch and she still has room to grow.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Jim Pierce.