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.
Gwyneth Philips just wanted an opportunity to play.
Philips didn’t get many opportunities in goal during her first three seasons at Northeastern. As soon as she received her opportunity to shine between the pipes, the goaltender enjoyed one of the most dominant seasons in Northeastern and Hockey East history.
Philips was rewarded for her historic season and was named as one of the top-10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.
“I had three years before this to develop and worry about my development rather than my performance,” Philips said. “Those three years, I got to practice with the best of the best and I had a high-caliber practice day in and day out. I had all of that time to develop, so coming into the season I felt ready.”
Minutes were hard to come by early for Philips because she backed up Aerin Frankel, the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Award winner who finished her career as the program leader in games played, minutes, goals-against average, save percentage, saves, shutouts and wins.
Philips appeared in 29 games in the previous three seasons as Frankel’s backup.
“One of the things I admired was how hard [Frankel] worked, especially in practice,” Philips said. “Not having to worry about my actual performance, I could take time and learn what situations I do well in and what situations I struggle in.”
Northeastern lost 12 seniors to graduation last season, including Frankel and three top defenders. The Huskies welcomed 10 newcomers, including eight freshmen and two transfer players. Philips has continued Northeastern’s stability in goal, which impressed her head coach Dave Flint.
“Gwyn has had an amazing year to say the least,” Flint said. “She was put into a very high-pressure situation right away and she answered the question of how good she would be by besting Frankel’s numbers and by being the best goaltender in the NCAA.”
Philips, a native of Athens, Ohio, leads the nation with 33 wins, a 0.81 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage. She also set new single-season program records in minutes played and wins, while her 10 shutouts are tied for the second-best mark in team history.
“I came into the season without too many expectations,” Philips said. “I missed always having that competitive edge and always getting that starting spot. I was hungry. It had been three years, so I was ready.”
While Philips felt ready to assume the starting job, she admitted the nerves were there at times early in the season. She hadn’t served as the starter since the 2018-19 season at Shady Side Academy and with the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite program.
“There were definitely times when my confidence was in question,” Philips said. “After a few games, my teammates started to get some confidence in me and that built my confidence, too. I was catching pucks and it felt normal, it felt like I hadn’t missed a beat and I was back.”
On top of being a Patty Kazmaier finalist, Philips is also a top-three finalist for the Women’s Hockey Commissioners Association Goalie of the Year Award, which Frankel won the previous two seasons.
Philips was the Hockey East Goaltender of the Year and a First-Team Hockey East All-Star.
“She is a very even-tempered player that shows up, works hard every day and is unflappable in pressure situations, which gives her teammates a lot of confidence,” Flint said. “Gwyn has shown without a doubt that she is the best goaltender in the NCAA this year.”
Philips admits the awards and statistics are nice, but she came into the season just ready to be a starter again. She wants to keep the current run going for as long as possible before attempting to replicate the same success in her fifth year of eligibility next season.
“[Frankel] took me under her wing and taught me a lot while she was here,” Philips said. “She never gave up on a puck, even in practice. She taught me how to play at this level and compete. But I wasn’t thinking about breaking her records. I was thinking about playing. I was so excited, I just wanted to come in and play.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.