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 sweater and colors may have changed for Élizabeth Giguère, but little else.
Now at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Giguère is once again living up to her lofty standards as a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which is presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“It’s just an honor,” Giguère said. “It’s amazing to be part of this group. And just being nominated once again this year, I’m so grateful for the teammates and coaches that I have.”
Giguère won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2020 as a junior playing at Clarkson University. Giguere is just one of four players — including Minnesota Duluth’s Maria Rooth (2000-2003) — to be named a top-10 finalist for four consecutive seasons. In all, seven players have been a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award four times.
Giguère said she didn’t know what to expect after transferring to Duluth, but it didn’t take long for the standout forward to adjust.
“I’m loving it and it’s been a blast since I got here,” Giguère said. “Everybody has been so nice and so welcoming to me.”
Giguère is a three-time All-American, and won a national championship at Clarkson in 2018 after scoring the game-winning goal. Giguère said that she wanted something different for her fifth year of eligibility. She felt an instant connection with the Bulldogs coaching staff and didn’t feel out of place entering as a recent Patty Kazmaier Award winner.
“I’m not the loudest person in the room … I don’t ever really talk, but I wanted to bring calmness and that type of leadership,” Giguère said. “When things get tough, or when games are tighter, I want to bring my experience. I’m a little bit older, so I wanted to be there for the younger players, too. I felt like a freshman in a sense, but after a couple weeks, I felt right at home and was able to bring leadership to the team.”
Giguère, of Quebec City, Quebec, said last year that she hadn’t seen the actual 2020 Patty Kazmaier Award in person because of the pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions. The award was shipped to Giguère’s house while she was at New York-based Clarkson, but she saw it for the first time last August when she went home.
“My family opened it for me on FaceTime,” Giguère said. “I went home almost a year later, because I didn’t go home that entire year, and then I saw it in person. It was pretty nice and pretty heavy. It’s nice to see it in person and have it in the house. It’s quite the honor.”
Giguère is appearing in the NCAA Frozen Four for the third time in her career. Giguère, during her first season in Duluth, helped the Bulldogs back to the Frozen Four for the second consecutive year.
“Élizabeth Giguère is as unique a hockey talent as I have ever seen, and she has an elite understanding of the game, which allows her to be two steps ahead of everyone else on the ice at all times,” Minnesota Duluth coach Maura Crowell said. “She has scored some of the biggest goals of the year and therefore continues her career trend of performing at the highest level when it matters most, a remarkable career of production and consistency.”
Giguère currently leads the team with 57 points — fourth-most in the NCAA — on 21 goals and 36 assists through 37 games. Giguère’s points-per game is among the best in the nation and she’s also in the top 10 for most assists in a single season at Minnesota Duluth.
Giguère now has 292 career points, which makes her the third-highest point-getter in Division I women’s college hockey history. Giguère is second all-time with 171 assists and she has 26 game-winning goals, ranking sixth. One more game-winning goal would move her to third. Giguère’s 120 goals also rank ninth all-time in the NCAA in goals scored.
“It’s an honor, but you can’t get there by yourself,” Giguère said. “Every year, it’s really been my thing to go out there and try to have some fun because that’s when you play your best.”
Entering the season, Giguère knew she’d play on a line with Gabbie Hughes and Anna Klein and the trio has performed as one of the best in the NCAA, combining for 59 goals and 160 points in 37 games. Klein was a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award last year and Hughes joins Giguère on the list this season.
Giguère is happy to see Hughes as a top-10 finalist for not just the Patty Kazmaier Award, but also the Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented annually to hockey’s finest citizen.
“She deserves it,” Giguère said. “She’s been working so hard. She’s an amazing hockey player, but she does so much outside of the rink. She puts in so much time and effort.”
Giguère, a business major, said she hasn’t put much thought into what’s next after the season because she’s focused on the final stretch of hockey. But she’s ready for the next step.
“For sure, I want to keep playing,” Giguère said. “I’ve been enjoying these past five years and I’m truly going to miss this.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.