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.
The eye-popping numbers are certainly similar, but this year is different for Northeastern standout goaltender Aerin Frankel.
Frankel won the Patty Kazmaier Award during a historic 2020-2021 campaign and the fifth-year graduate student is back in the conversation this season as a top-10 finalist for the most prestigious award presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“Aerin has been the backbone of our team since her freshman year,” Northeastern coach Dave Flint said. “And just when we thought she reached her peak, she came back for her fifth year to prove us wrong.”
Frankel, now a three-time top-10 finalist, led the nation with nine shutouts, a 0.81 goals-against average and a .965 save percentage during her Patty Kazmaier Award-winning season. This year, Frankel set a new single-season program record with 11 shutouts, in addition to an NCAA-leading 1.06 goals-against average and .956 save percentage, also tops in the country among goaltenders with more than 20 games played.
“Obviously, everyone looks at the numbers by nature,” Frankel said. “And the numbers are the numbers. But every season is very unique and I think this year, we had a little more adversity than last year. I think the strength of our schedule has been a little more difficult this year and we obviously played more games. If I give my team the best chance to win every night, then I’m happy.”
Frankel led the Huskies to the national championship game last season, and she helped Northeastern capture an unprecedented fifth-straight Hockey East title this year.
Frankel, a native of Briarcliff Manor, New York, won her 73rd career game in Hockey East play this season. That’s a new conference record, surpassing Katie Burt of Boston College, who owned the previous mark. This past season, Frankel became the sixth NCAA Division I women’s hockey goaltender to reach 100 career wins.
Earlier this season, Frankel also broke the Northeastern program record for saves. She stopped 62 shots faced against Providence, surpassing the mark of 2,808 career saves, which was previously set in 2015 by Chloe Desjardins. Frankel, who also holds the games played record, became the first goaltender in program history to reach 3,000 career saves. And she’s a finalist for the Women’s Hockey Goalie of the Year award.
“Aerin works extremely hard to continually improve and to stay at the very top of her game,” Flint said. “She gives our team the confidence to play freely, which has led to our success. Aerin has proven that she is the best goaltender and one of the top players in Division I hockey.”
The Patty Kazmaier Award was presented virtually on NHL Network last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That didn’t bother Frankel during her history-making run.
“It was a very special moment, having my parents live on NHL Network, talking and speaking about me,” Frankel said. “I was overwhelmed with the amount of friends and family that reached out to me. It was an awesome moment for me, my family and the program here at Northeastern as well.”
Frankel doesn’t think her life changed dramatically after winning the Patty Kazmaier Award. But she admitted she was “a bit surprised” to win the award. Frankel said the win certainly kept her motivated during the current season.
“There’s just a lot of talent and so many amazing, deserving players,” Frankel said. “I didn’t think I was going to win at all. You have the best point scorers, best defenders and best goalies. Everybody brings something different to the table.”
It’s a microcosm of the Northeastern roster, which features Frankel, as one of the top goaltenders in the nation, but also a top defenseman and forward, as well.
Frankel is joined in the top 10 with Northeastern standout defenseman Skylar Fontaine and star forward Alina Mueller. It’s the second straight year the Northeastern trio were named top-10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award.
“It’s really special because they’re both incredible players,” Frankel said. “Alina and Sky, we’re lucky to have them and they’re such big components as to why this team has been able to be so successful. They’ve been such a big part of my success. I think the three of us play a crucial role to the team’s success.”
Frankel also feels fortunate to be in the top 10 again.
“It’s such a tremendous award,” Frankel said. “It has a lot of history and a lot of amazing players that have been named in the top 10 and the winners of the past. It’s pretty cool just to be recognized.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.