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.
If you think that a fourth nomination in five years for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award means that it has become routine for Daryl Watts, think again. The award still means a great deal to her.
“It’s an honor to be nominated again for this prestigious award,” said Watts, a fifth-year senior forward at the University of Wisconsin. “Patty Kazmaier was a trailblazer for women’s hockey and an inspiration for the entire hockey community, so to be recognized for an award that’s in her name is very special.”
Few players are more well-acquainted with the Kazmaier Award than Watts, who became the youngest to receive it as an 18-year-old freshman forward at Boston College in 2018. Watts, who transferred to Wisconsin after her sophomore year, is one of only seven players in the award’s 25-year history to be named among the 10 finalists four times.
The other four-time finalists include: Meghan Agosta, Mercyhurst; Hannah Brandt, Minnesota; Elizabeth Giguere, Clarkson/Minnesota Duluth; Alina Mueller, Northeastern; Maria Rooth, Minnesota Duluth and Angela Ruggiero, Harvard.
“It’s an honor to be nominated for this award that I won previously,” Watts said. “I wouldn’t be in this position without the support from my teammates and coaches here at the University of Wisconsin.
“This nomination is absolutely a team honor. My teammates help me aspire to be not only a better hockey player, but a better person every day, and I wouldn’t be in this position without their support.”
Watts said it’s particularly meaningful to be a finalist this year with linemate Casey O’Brien, a sophomore.
“To be nominated with Casey is a very special experience, especially after playing together on the same line for most of the season,” Watts said. “She’s an incredible player, and I’m so thankful I got to play with her this year, and I can’t wait to see what she does in her future years at Wisconsin.”
Watts is looking to become just the second player in history to win the award twice. She would be the first two-time recipient since Jennifer Botterill of Harvard University won it in 2001 and 2003.
She could also become the sixth Wisconsin player to take home the Kazmaier Award. The last to do it was Badger goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens in 2017.
Watts reached the top-three nominees in 2018 and last year.
This is the third year in a row that the Badgers have placed multiple players in the Kazmaier top 10. It’s also the seventh-straight year with a Wisconsin player among the nominees.
The top-three finalists will be announced March 17, while the 2022 award winner will be named March 26.
Watts led fifth-ranked Wisconsin (26-8-4), the two-time defending national champion, to the national quarterfinal in Boston, where the Badgers lost a 4-2 decision to host and No. 3 Northeastern University. She led the Badgers in goals (28), assists (29) and points (57) and was sixth in the nation in scoring.
Watts was first-team All-WCHA for the third straight year.
“She’s been here for three years, she’s put up big numbers and had an outstanding career for us,” said Badgers head coach Mark Johnson. “She’s grown tremendously off the ice. She’s matured into a team leader.
“She’s a big reason why in her three years here, we had a lot of success as she not only scored a lot of goals, but she helped develop other players and made the players around her better.”
Johnson said his favorite memory of Watts was her game-winning goal in overtime that gave the Badgers a 2-1 victory over Northeastern in last year’s NCAA championship game.
“The expression on her face,” Johnson recalled, “her excitement with her dream coming true of winning a national championship.”
Johnson also spoke of Watts’ legacy.
“She made history as a freshman, becoming the first freshman to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award and leaves college hockey ranking second in NCAA history in career scoring,” Johnson said. “She got a fifth year and made the most out of it.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.