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.
Nothing can diminish the historic season accomplished by Clarkson standout forward Elizabeth Giguere.
Though the 2020 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award ceremony may have had to adapt to current events, Giguere took it in stride, deservedly being named the top women’s college hockey player in the nation Friday.
Instead of at a ceremony taking place March 21 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four, Giguere was revealed as the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner during a special streaming production on USA Hockey’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
“You can’t control everything … we can’t control this,” Giguere said. “If something changes, you have to be able to adapt to it. I’m grateful and I’m still happy. I’m just enjoying this.”
Giguere was chosen from the top-three finalists including Wisconsin senior Abby Roque and Northeastern sophomore Alina Mueller.
This is the 23rd Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award and the second straight win from Clarkson University. Giguere joins close friend and former linemate Loren Gabel, who claimed the honor in 2019. Giguere, a native of Quebec City, Quebec, is the third overall winner from Clarkson, as Jamie Lee Rattray won in 2014.
Reminiscing about attending the brunch last season, Giguere recalled supporting Gabel with her teammates, coaches and school officials.
“When [Gabel] was called up and won the award, you should’ve seen our table,” Giguere said. “Being there with her was amazing. I wish she could’ve been there for me, but I know she’s proud of me.”
Giguere virtually watched Friday’s award special on a video conference call with teammates and coaches. And then they all celebrated with Giguere after she was announced as the winner.
“I have my family with me, but it has been fun,” Giguere said. “My phone has been blowing up with people reaching out, even if they can’t be here with me. I know they’re happy for me.”
Giguere spent the rest of the day celebrating with family members while also returning countless calls, text messages and well-wishes. Following the announcement, Giguere immediately received a phone call from Gabel, and the two most recent winners of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award shared a moment.
“She just said congratulations,” Giguere said. “We talk a lot … we’re good friends, so it was casual. It’s an honor to be there next to Loren, who I played with for two years. For me, it’s really fun to be there with her. As soon as they announced the winner, she called me and we talked.”
Friday’s announcement featured highlights from the other Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award nominees. Giguere, in her acceptance video, congratulated Roque and Mueller and thanked USA Hockey for making the announcement special despite the unprecedented circumstances.
“I would’ve rather been there to [give my speech] live, and meet people and see my teammates and everything,” Giguere said. “But we all understand why we’re not there. I’m still happy.”
Giguere helped No. 7-ranked Clarkson to its eighth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament before the season ended prematurely because of the pandemic.
“A big reason for our continued success was because of the contributions made by Elizabeth,” Clarkson head coach Matt Desrosiers said. “You can’t put into words just how important Elizabeth was to the success of our team this season.”
Giguere led the nation this season with 37 goals in 37 games and finished second in the country with 66 points. Last year, as a sophomore, Giguere was named a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award when she established career marks in scoring with 26 goals and 73 points in 40 games. As a freshman, Giguere scored 27 goals, including the game-winner at 7:55 of overtime to clinch Clarkson’s second consecutive national championship.
Giguere, who tied for tops in the country with 10 game-winning goals, has 90 goals and 210 career points through 118 games at Clarkson. She’s just four points shy of breaking Clarkson’s all-time points record of 213, currently held by Gabel.
But it’s not just the points and on-ice success that makes Giguere special.
“When speaking with Elizabeth, you would never know how great and talented a player she is because of how humble she is,” Desrosiers said. “She is always deflecting her success onto her teammates and saying that none of it would be possible without them. As great as Elizabeth is on the ice, she is equally as great of a person and teammate.”
Her teammates can attest. Clarkson captain Ella Shelton — a fellow All-American along with Giguere — said that the junior standout makes everyone around her better.
“She is humble and the first person to give credit to all of her teammates before herself for helping her become a better player and achieving these accomplishments,” Shelton said. “[Giguere] has the natural skill to lead simply by demonstration without being vocal, but when she speaks in the locker room, she is heard.
“She played a crucial role on our team this past season. If we were up a goal or down going into the final minutes of the game, or in overtime, she was our go-to player.”
Clarkson senior Kayla Friesen said it was a privilege to play alongside Giguere.
“She’s the type of person you know will always be there for you when you need her, whether it’s hockey or just life itself,” Friesen said. “She’s the type of friend and person everyone wants to know and be around. Not only is she an amazing friend of mine, she’s truly one of the best teammates I’ve ever come across over my 19-year journey in this game.”
Friesen also spotlighted Giguere’s modesty, despite her high honors and accolades.
“For someone like her to constantly be getting compliments and awards throughout the last three years at this level, it would be easy to give them a reason to become arrogant or cocky,” Friesen said. “But she’s never once let that get to her head or allowed it to change her. She has continued to stay grounded, humble and respectful, and I think that’s just another one of the amazing things about her.”
Giguere’s teammates feel the standout forward has undoubtedly made her on-ice impact at Clarkson.
“Even without having Gabel on her line, she found a way to take on that role of becoming a goal scorer, while still maintaining that playmaking role she was known for,” Friesen said. “She singlehandedly was our MVP this year. She was incredible each game, even in the rare games that she didn’t score or set up a goal, she was making an impact on the bench or in the locker room. She always found a way to contribute.”
Giguere plans on continuing to contribute during her senior season, despite increased expectations after winning the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.
“People asked me the same exact question when Loren left … they were like, ‘Do you feel more pressure?’ and I don’t,” Giguere said. “I’ll give everything I have for my team next year and try to compete for another championship. If personal stats come with it, they’ll come with it, but I don’t feel pressure.”
Until then, Giguere — in the most unprecedented of circumstances — is all alone at the top of the women’s college hockey world.
“I wasn’t expecting it, and it’s, for sure, something big for the school and the program that we won back-to-back,” Giguere said. “I’m still kind of overwhelmed. It’s an honor and it’s still kind of unreal right now.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Clarkson Athletics/Jim Meagher