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Kaz Watch: Sarah Fillier Wrapped Up a Six-Year Journey At Princeton With More Honors

03/08/2024, 2:15pm MST
By Dan Scifo

Fillier returned to Princeton and became a 30-goal scorer.

Sarah Fillier, Princeton forward, skates down the ice with an orange C on her chest, in the Princeton white and orange jersey.

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.

Sarah Fillier admittedly experienced some growing pains when she started her college hockey career at Princeton six years ago.

However, Fillier wrapped up her time at the New Jersey school this spring as one of the top players in program history and among the best in the world.

For the third time in four seasons at Princeton, the forward from Georgetown, Ontario, was named a top-10 finalist for the Patty KazmaierAward — presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey.

“It’s hard to put this whole experience and career into words at this point, but I’ve done a bit of reflecting,” Fillier said a week after her playing days at Princeton ended. “I’m grateful to represent a program with such a long and rich tradition and legacy. My first two years, I did a lot of learning. I failed a lot and understood how to learn from it and that failure is OK. The last two years, I’ve grown into a leadership role, helping young players come into the program. It has been special to have the last two years here.”

Patty Kaz: Sarah Fillier (School: Princeton, Class: Senior Position: Forward, Hometown: Georgetown, Ont., Statistics: 43 points in 29 games - 30G, 13A)

Fillier was named a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2019 as a freshman and again as a sophomore in 2020. She then left Princeton for two years and helped Canada win a pair of world championships and a gold medal at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

“There was definitely a bit of a learning curve at the beginning of last year,” Fillier admitted. “But I came back to the program, they welcomed me back and I adjusted back to college. It’s been a big learning experience for me,and, at the end of the day, I came out a more well-rounded player and I was really able to lean into the leadership skills I learned with Hockey Canada.”

That experience has helped Fillier to another nomination as a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award.

It’s an award that takes on additional meaning and significance for Fillier, as it’s named in honor of the late Patty Kazmaier-Sandt, an All-Ivy League defenseman at Princeton during the 1980s.

Kazmaier-Sandt, who also played field hockey and lacrosse, helped lead Princeton to the Ivy League championship in three consecutive seasons. She passed away on Feb. 15, 1990, at the age of 28 following a long struggle with a rare blood disease.

“We know a lot about her legacy at Princeton,” Fillier said. “We try to live by her values she showed while she was here. The Kazmaier family is very special, and it means a lot. We’re reminded every day when we look at the picture of her at the rink. It definitely means a little more being from Princeton and up for the award.”

Fillier finished her last season at Princeton with 30 goals and 43 points in 29 games. It was the 10th 30-goal season in program history and just the third since 2000. Fillier led the NCAA in goals per game, and she ended seventh in the nation with eight power-play goals.

She’s proud of her first career 30-goal season.

“I’m more of a passer than a playmaker,” Fillier said. “This year, I felt like I got a lot more opportunities to take the puck to the net. I don’t think I came into the season trying to hit the 30-goal mark, but it kind of happened and it’s always nice when the puck goes in the net.”

Fillier ranks second in program history with 101 career assists, fourth in career points (194) and sixth with 93 goals. She is one of four players in program history to rank among the top six in all three categories and the only one in the group to play with the program since 1995.

“It feels like I’ve grown into a completely different person and player than when I was here six years ago,” Fillier said. “It’s cool to see my growth over the past six years and also the players who have been through the program who helped me reach that list.”

Fillier hopes the next step is a career playing professional hockey in the newly formed Professional Women’s Hockey League next season.

“Everyone in the hockey world right now sees the success of the PWHL,” Fillier said. “I have a lot of friends and past teammates in the league, and they had nothing but great things to say. Hopefully, I’ll soon declare for the draft and see where I end up. It’s been amazing to watch, and I can’t wait to be part of it.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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