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 2023 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner will be announced on March 18 in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Frozen Four in Duluth, Minnesota.
The top-three finalists are expected to be announced on Wednesday, March 8.
Northeastern standout Alina Mueller is soaking in her final season playing college hockey.
Mueller, a graduate student, is one of the 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, but that’s nothing new to her. She has been a top-10 finalist for the award in all five seasons of her collegiate career.
“One of the hardest things in sports is to be consistent,” Mueller said. “It’s pretty crazy because it means I played consistently well over my college career. I’m proud that I can show my best hockey over five years, but it’s something I expect from myself too because I want to be the best at everything I do.”
The gravity of playing her final season in college is settling in with the NCAA tournament approaching, but Mueller has been able to enjoy the ride all year.
“It feels weird because the other years it was like ‘OK, if we don’t win this now, I have another chance next year,’ and then all of the sudden, you’re in your last year,” she said. “I’ve tried to put it in perspective, I’m thankful that I have this extra year and I’ve been able to enjoy it.”
Mueller, the team captain, recently helped lead Northeastern to its sixth consecutive Hockey East championship. She was awarded the Hockey East Tournament MVP with five goals and eight points in three games.
“I’m just trying to have fun and enjoy my last games in college,” Mueller said. “I love this school, I love this league. I’m just enjoying the games and hopefully we can win more trophies as a team.”
Mueller established a significant individual milestone during the Hockey East Tournament, as she passed Northeastern legend Kendall Coyne Schofield — the 2016 Patty Kazmaier Award winner — and set a program record with her 250th career point.
“Kendall is the player of all players,” Mueller said. “She made a name for Northeastern women’s hockey and to just kind of continue what she did here is pretty cool. This was only possible because I stayed for a fifth year. I did this in five years and the fact that she did it in four is remarkable and something I would’ve never been able to do in four years.”
On top of the multiple records she’ll own, Mueller also won her third Hockey East Player of the Year Award last week. She was also the lone unanimous Hockey East First-Team All-Star pick this season. She has 26 goals and 58 points through the Hockey East Tournament, which both rank in the top five in the NCAA. Her nine game-winning goals are tied for the NCAA lead, as Northeastern is 29-0-0 this season — and 115-7-7 throughout her career — when Mueller records a point.
Though Mueller is grateful for the on-ice success, she wants her legacy at Northeastern to be more than points and broken records.
“I think I’m most proud of how I developed as a person,” Mueller said. “I think about what I did in hockey, but I hope I was able to inspire my teammates, the students and obviously the coaching staff. I think that’s what I’m most proud of and hope people will remember me as.”
Northeastern coach Dave Flint has been equally impressed with Mueller’s talent and leadership on the ice throughout her career.
“She will often deflect praise and recognition to her teammates and give them credit for her success,” Flint said. “She works as hard, or harder than anyone, and pays attention to the details in everything she does. She is the most complete player I have ever coached and has proven year after year to be one of the best players in the NCAA.”
Mueller will graduate from Northeastern with a behavior neuroscience major and a minor in exercise science. She is currently working on a master’s degree in rehabilitation sciences, which she’s expected to complete in August.
On top of that, she wants to continue her hockey career after college.
“I can say that I decided I want to stay in the U.S.,” Mueller said. “And I want to sign with a pro team and keep playing hockey here.”