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Kaz Watch: Cornell Captain Izzy Daniel Stopped Overthinking And Took Her Game To The Next Level

03/08/2024, 9:00am MST
By Nicole Haase

Kaz Watch: Cornell Captain Izzy Daniel Stopped Overthinking And Took Her Game To The Next Level

Cornell senior forward and captain Izzy Daniel, in her Cornell white and red jersey, skates on the ice.

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 2024 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner will be announced on March 23 in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four in Durham, New Hampshire. The 2024 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Show will be broadcast live from the Whittemore Center Arena Lobby beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET on NHL Network.

Cornell senior forward and captain Izzy Daniel knows she’s an overthinker. She can remain hung up on a mistake for days when everyone who witnessed it would forget in a matter of minutes.

“I’m extremely hard on myself, and I set really high expectations for myself,” the Minneapolis native said. “I would get too down if I felt like I wasn’t meeting those expectations. I weighed myself down a little bit.”

After years of work on and off the ice to hone her body, her strength, her speed and her skill, this past offseason she focused on improving the mental side of her game — on trusting herself and her instincts, not being so hard on herself and harnessing the roller coaster of emotions a seven-month season brings.

The result has been Daniel’s best season to date. She leads the Big Red in all offensive categories (21 goals, 38 assists, 59 points). Her nearest teammate is 22 points back, while Daniel has twice as many assists as anyone else. Meanwhile, she also ranks third on the team in blocks (30) and is second in the country with 1.77 points per game.

Patty Kaz: Izzy Daniels (School: Cornell, Class: Senior Position: Forward, Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn, Statistics: 59 points in 34 games - 21G, 38A)

“I have tried to simplify things and clear my head,” she said. “I play a lot better, and I definitely think I found a lot of consistency in my game this year because of that.” 

Taking a cue from Ted Lasso, Daniel said one of Cornell’s mottos is to have a memory like goldfish, something she admits she struggled with. But age and experience have helped her feel more comfortable trusting herself and her instincts so that she stops second-guessing each decision and rehashing each mistake.

“It has just taken me a while to believe in myself in that way,” Daniel said.“Our team likes to say we are confident but humble, and I try to take that personally. I don’t want to come off as cocky or arrogant to anyone else, but to myself I want to make sure that I have that confidence within myself and believe from within.”

A playmaker with great vision on the ice, Daniel has always been more comfortable dishing the puck and setting up plays than shooting. But part of her offseason mental work was a focus on being a difference-maker. 

Sometimes that does mean setting up a teammate, but it just as often means using her speed to dart around defenses in front of and behind the net, hustling hard on the back check and shooting the puck. She likes that becoming more of a shooter has added a dimension to her game and made her more difficult for opponents to defend.

Daniel is as energized by a big block as she is a goal or assist, and she loves that she’s a trusted member of the team’s penalty kill. She prides herself on the defensive side of her game and says it’s made her more aware of the importance of making opponents track her on every inch of the ice.

Cornell is a defense-focused team that builds from the back and relies on strong defense transitioning to strong offense. Not the biggest or strongest player on the ice, Daniel said she thinks an underrated part of her game is how she uses her stick, particularly on defense. She uses her speed and vision to get herself and her stick in position to poke check, intercept passes and start the breakout.

Cornell coach Doug Derraugh describes Daniel as epitomizing everything the Patty Kazmaier Award is about, praising her character and leadership and highlighting how she makes her team and everyone around her better. With just 10 penalty minutes and the second-highest GPA on the team, Daniel models sportsmanship and academic excellence in addition to her on-ice accomplishments.

“She led the NCAA in assists per game for the majority of the year (and is currently second), second in the NCAA in points per game, is 22 points ahead of our second leading scorer, is our top penalty killer, and our captain,” Derraugh said. “She produces in the clutch and had a goal or an assist in game-winning goals in 10 of our wins this year. She also had multiple point games in 10 of the other 14 victories.”

Her opponents agree, voting Daniel both Ivy League Player of the Year and the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year.

Daniel appreciates the recognition and is quick to share the accolades with her teammates, but the focus all season has been on bigger goals. After feeling like the team underperformed last season, she noted how this year’s team has progressed all season and gets contributions from up and down the roster.

That only helps her confidence grow. 

Cornell is poised to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years, and Daniel will lead them there — confidently. 

“I want to be a difference-maker,” she concluded. “I can make a play in this moment. I belong here. I belong on this stage.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.


Junior forward Abbey Murphy taps the gloves of her teammates after scoring in her white and maroon Minnesota jersey.

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