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 on March 27. More information will follow.
A sense of normalcy with the U.S. Women’s National Team in the midst of a global pandemic helped Skylar Fontaine to a breakout season on the blue line at Northeastern.
Fontaine was invited to the U.S. Women’s National Team Evaluation Camp prior to the season and the standout senior defenseman used the experience to become one of the top players in the NCAA, as she was voted a top-10 finalist for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually to the top women’s college player in the nation.
“You make a lot of sacrifices along the way and all of my hard work, effort and just putting in the little things since I was younger have paid off,” Fontaine said. “Definitely, when I found out, I was very thankful and grateful and honored."
Fontaine, a native of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, is the first Northeastern defenseman to be named a top-10 finalist. She was named the top defenseman in Hockey East for the second straight season. Fontaine joins teammates Alina Müeller and Aerin Frankel as the first-ever trio to make the top 10 in program history.
“Honestly, I think it’s a huge honor and accomplishment for myself and for everyone named to the top-10,” Fontaine said. “I honestly couldn’t have been here without my teammates, my family, my coaches and my friends.”
Fontaine was invited to her second U.S. Women’s National Team Evaluation Camp this past fall. It was a week-long respite, Fontaine said, from the rigors of the pandemic that has gripped the world for the last year.
“It was a great experience, but it was also great to be out there playing and almost have some normalcy,” Fontaine said. “I got some great feedback and I took that back into my season. I’ve been working on things I need to work on personally and hopefully that just keeps me developing my game and progressing. It’s always a great honor to be invited to these camps and hopefully I’ll continue to get more of these great opportunities. You meet a ton of amazing women that you get to learn from and compete against, and I think every time I come away learning more about myself and my game and how I can progress.”
The camp was part of the process of selecting the U.S. Women’s National Team for the upcoming 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championships. Fontaine previously made the 2019 Women’s Under-22 Series team, which defeated Canada twice during a three-game series in Lake Placid, New York.
“Whenever I play against some of the best players in the world, you learn that sometimes you need to revamp your game,” Fontaine said. “I think I’m starting to get on the right track where I need to use my speed and hockey IQ. It just gave me great insight on ways to improve.”
Northeastern coach Dave Flint called Fontaine the most dynamic defenseman in the NCAA.
“She is gifted with speed and skill that is unmatched,” Flint said. “I often say that Skylar can beat everyone to the net on offense and then when the puck gets turned over, she will beat everyone back to our net. As gifted as she is offensively, she has really developed her defensive game the past two seasons and has become a shutdown D that usually plays against every team’s best lines.”
Fontaine was also named the top defenseman in Hockey East during the 2019-20 season with 17 goals, 42 points and a plus-49 rating. Fontaine, the No. 2 scoring defenseman in the NCAA last season, leads all blueliners and is ranked among the top scorers — forward or defense — in the nation this season.
“It’s a huge honor and one I’ve put a lot of work into to get there,” Fontaine said. “But I try not to think too much into those things. I’m just very honored and grateful for the recognition."
Fontaine became the 31st player and third defenseman to reach 100 points at Northeastern in January. She’s currently second all-time among Northeastern defensemen with 113 points, trailing only Donna-Lynn Rosa by eight points for the school record.
“It’s kind of been in the back of my mind,” Fontaine said. “I think it’s a goal of mine. I don’t necessarily think about it when I go into a game because my main purpose is to win as a team. But it would be a great accomplishment if I can get there.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.