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 2021 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner will be announced at a later date. More Details will follow.
Consistency has helped University of Minnesota Duluth forward Anna Klein enjoy a breakout season.
It has also put the senior standout in the mix for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“I’ve never really been the type of person to be in the spotlight, so I’m really thankful for my team and my coaches,” Klein said. “I’ve looked at past winners of this award and even people from [Minnesota Duluth], who have been nominated, and it’s cool to see and nice to even be considered for an honor like this.”
Minnesota Duluth has featured six finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, most recently Lara Stalder in 2017. Klein started at Minnesota Duluth the season after Stalder graduated and she was selected as the program’s Breakthrough Player of the Year as a sophomore with 12 goals and 23 points in 35 games, good for fourth on the team in scoring.
“Just growing in confidence is such a big deal,” Klein said. “It’s said a lot, but I could really feel it and I was so much more confident with my play and knowing what I could do with my teammates out there. My coaching staff also helped me so much, so putting all of that into utilization helped me, as well.”
Klein enjoyed a career season as a junior with 13 goals and 27 points in 36 games. She’s doing the same through her pandemic-shortened senior season with nine goals and 16 points in just 12 games. Familiarity has helped Klein succeed, as she has played on the same line for the past two seasons. Her linemates include juniors Gabbie Hughes and Taylor Anderson.
“We started off with a young class when I came in, but we’ve been growing up and playing together,” Klein said. “Having that consistency has been helpful and has helped us grow our game.”
Klein has nine goals in just 12 games, which places her among the top 10 in the nation. It’s also four goals off her career high. Klein credited her teammates for the help, but she also pointed to offseason work and practice, which has helped her find the back of the net with increased regularity.
“Before the summer, I talked to my coaches and one goal to focus on was getting a harder shot,” Klein said. “That always helps, but also in a lot of our team practices, there’s a focus on scoring. We play small-area games, we do shooting drills and pressure situations, like the next goal wins.”
Minnesota Duluth coach Maura Crowell has noticed a difference in her assistant captain.
“Anna is one of the fastest and quickest players in our league,” Crowell said. “That’s what jumps out at you when you watch her in games. On a daily basis, we get to see her show incredibly high compete level and consistent approach. She has blended everything together this year to put her name alongside the best in college hockey.”
Klein is also an All-American. As a junior, Klein was named to the American Hockey Coaches Association’s 2019-20 Division I All-American Scholars list. She was also selected to the WCHA All-Academic Team as a sophomore and junior.
“I am a very big believer in academics,” Klein said. “I love school, I love Duluth and I love how great of a program they have. Our coaches have a good emphasis on making sure you pay attention to your academics along with your hockey. I’m very thankful for that because I don’t think you get the full college experience if you disregard education.”
In addition to performing as one of the top skaters in the nation, Klein is also a double major at Duluth in biology and chemistry with the hopes to enter into medical school after college.
“Balance is the biggest thing,” said Klein, who was a three-sport standout in high school. “Yes, it’s a lot, but when you come to the hockey rink, it’s also a nice little break from school. You get to play the sport you love, but I really value my education, so you also have to be ready for school.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photos courtesy of UMD Athletics.