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Kaz Watch: Theresa Schafzahl’s Historic Season Elevated Vermont to New Heights

03/14/2022, 3:45pm MDT
By Bob Reinert

Senior forward is the first Catamount to be named a finalist for the Patty Kaz Award

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 2022 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner presentation is scheduled for Saturday, March 26.

No matter what happens now, Theresa Schafzahl has already made history at the University of Vermont.

A senior forward from Weiz, Austria, Schafzahl became the first Catamount to be named among the 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, annually given to the best NCAA Division I women’s college hockey player.

“It’s an incredible honor and being mentioned among the other nine finalists makes me very proud since they all are incredible hockey players,” Schafzahl said. “Knowing that some of the best women to ever play this game have been nominated and won the award in the past makes it very special to be considered for it.

“I think it’s just one small step part of the transition our program is going through to create a winning culture. I am very happy that I was able to come in at UVM with a great group of people in my class, who together, I think, have been able to be a big part of the successes we had this year.”

Vermont coach Jim Plumer said he was happy for Schafzahl.

“She’s competitive, and she’s humble, and I think it was fun to be able to see her get this recognition,” Plumer said. “I wasn’t sure that our program was high-profile enough for people to really understand.”

About The Award

Schafzahl turned in a record-shattering season for Vermont, which finished 22-11-3 and advanced to the Hockey East semifinals. She established new school single-season standards with 25 goals and 46 points.

“As a team, even though we came up short in the end, I still consider this year to be very successful,” Schafzahl said.  “It was the best we have ever played since I have been there. I think that it was apparent to everyone who watched us that everyone on our team genuinely enjoyed playing with each other.”

She became the first Catamount to win the Cammi Granato Award given to the Hockey East player of the year. She led the conference with 21 goals and 39 points in 21 regular-season games. Schafzahl was fifth in the nation with seven power play goals.

Schafzahl, who was National Player of the Month in January, is equally impressive in the classroom. Her grade point average has hovered near 4.0 as an economics major.

The three finalists for the Kazmaier Award are expected to be announced March 17. The award presentation will take place March 26.

“I think even though it is an individual award, it obviously can’t be emphasized enough how big of a role the whole team plays in that,” Schafzahl said. “Without the successful year we had as a team, I never would have been able to be considered for this award.”

Plumer said he has watched Schafzahl become a world-class hockey player.

“She’s just the kind of person that only knows one way to do things, and that’s with her absolute 100% best effort,” Plumer said. “We knew she was a good student, but to see that she’s meticulous, she’s driven, she’s not a kid that needs to be externally motivated.

“And in a lot of ways, she and a couple other [players] in her class have completely changed the culture of our program. She was already on the national team for Austria as an underage kid when she got here.”

How critical was Schafzahl to UVM’s success this year? With her out of the lineup early in the season due to injury and her participation in Olympic qualifying with Austria, Vermont went 2-4-1. With her in the lineup, the Catamounts were 20-7-2.

“She’s really the catalyst of it all,” Plumer said. “When she came back from the Olympic qualifiers, there’s only four games out of 25 that she didn’t have a point.

“We wouldn’t have been nationally ranked. We wouldn’t have come in second [in Hockey East]. We lost three regular players to the Olympics. We also went 10-1-1 without those kids. We weren’t that good without Theresa. That’s the bottom line.”

Plumer said he has watched Schafzahl mature as a player.

“She was pretty raw when I first saw her,” Plumer recalled. “She was very talented. She’s refined it. She understands the game.

“She was always fast, but she’s a relentless puck hound. She’s the kid that’s like an elite grinder, an elite playmaker and an elite finisher all in one. She’s become a super-complete player.”

Schafzahl said the transition from Austria to college hockey was difficult initially, however.

“I think that it is always a challenge going to a higher level of competition,” she said. “Having to figure out new ways to make a positive impact on the ice while not having the offensive production that I was used to in the women’s league at home was hard at times.”

Plumer said Schafzahl has supplanted herself as the top player in school history.

“She’s by far the best player I’ve ever coached,” Plumer said. “And she’ll be back for a fifth year next year. I’m excited to see her start where she left off.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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