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.
Ohio State standout forward Emma Maltais has taken on a different role for the Buckeyes this season.
Maltais’ point production isn’t quite where she expects it to be. But her leadership has carried Ohio State to the WCHA championship game and it also has Maltais a top-10 finalist for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“It’s really, truly an honor,” Maltais said. “I was very surprised that I was mentioned amongst all of the other great players. I’m honestly just honored.”
Maltais is the seventh player in program history to be named a top-10 finalist for the award.
She distinctly remembers the feeling and the gravity of the award when she attended the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Ceremony and Brunch as a freshman in 2018. Ohio State advanced to the Frozen Four in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in that season and then-Boston College freshman Daryl Watts won the award.
“The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is something that just screams excellence, elite and being a good teammate and person,” Maltais said. “I just think the players who have won it, and their personalities, you hear the names, and it’s an honor to be on that list.”
This is the second straight year Maltais has been honored as a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. The Burlington, Ontario, native was also recognized last season as a junior when she set a new single-season program points and assists record, while also finishing sixth nationally in scoring.
“It’s really incredible,” Maltais said. “I wasn’t expecting it this year … same with last year. But I think this year was even more of a surprise for me. Having made it two years in a row gives me a lot of confidence. It also just puts a lot of responsibility on me to try and lead my teammates even more.”
Maltais, a second-team All-American in 2020, has five goals and 15 points through 18 games, but her on-ice significance extends beyond the scoresheet for the Buckeyes.
“Emma is all-around our most dynamic player, and she’s a threat in all aspects of the game,” Ohio State coach Nadine Muzerall said. “Emma uplifts everyone without even having to say anything — just by her example both on and off the ice. She sets a standard and represents our culture of what it’s supposed to look like to be that elite status.”
Maltais scored two goals and collected four points during Ohio State’s WCHA semifinal-round win against Minnesota Duluth. She also figured in on five of the Buckeyes’ seven goals during a January weekend split against No. 2 Minnesota.
“I haven’t been on the producing side as much and that was difficult in the beginning,” Matais said. “When you’re not producing, you feel like you’re not contributing as much to the team success. It was a challenge that I had to overcome.”
Maltais feels she’s on the other side of that early-season challenge. She had support from her teammates, she leaned on her linemates and even talked to a sports psychologist at Ohio State.
“That really helped me a lot,” Maltais said. “Thank goodness we have resources like that at Ohio State. It was challenging, but at the same time, it’s part of hockey and everyone goes through slumps. We were still playing fantastic and I think that’s what really makes the difference.”
Maltais remains one of the most prolific scorers in program history. During that January split against Minnesota, Maltais recorded her 100th career assist, joining Laura McIntosh as just the second player in program history to reach that milestone.
“Getting that 100th assist was a really cool moment, and it came at a time when I wasn’t necessarily producing as much,” Maltais said. “So to have a game where I produced a little more was a really special moment for me and to see the support from my teammates was incredible.”
Maltais is currently the WCHA’s active leader in career points with 157 on 55 goals and 102 assists. Maltais also ranks No. 4 in Ohio State history in career points, second in assists and No. 8 in goals scored.
“All of the alumni who have come out of [Ohio State], some of them are my biggest role models,” Maltais said. “To see those names, and to know that I’m in the mix is just an amazing feeling. I just want to continue to leave a legacy and I hope that I can continue that when I leave here eventually.”
Maltais isn’t finished at Ohio State just yet. Maltais, a health sciences major, said she plans to take advantage of an extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA and return to Ohio State next season.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.