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Kaz Watch: A Scorching Second Half Put St. Lawrence’s Abby Hustler Among the Nation’s Best

03/11/2024, 6:30pm MDT
By Dan Scifo

Hustler has been one of the game’s most prolific scorers this year, and also joined the 100-point club.

St. Lawrence junior Abby Hustler skates down the ice in her white, black, and red 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.

By her standards, St. Lawrence standout Abby Hustler struggled at the outset of the season.

Then Hustler’s production took off around the holiday break and propelled the junior forward, and her team, toward the upper echelons of the sport.

Hustler, for the first time in her career, was named a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award — presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s hockey.

“It’s so special, and in some sense, it’s a team award,” said Hustler. “You don’t hear of players getting this award without the help of coaches and teammates. It speaks volumes to my teammates and how much they helped me grow. It’s such an honor.”

Hustler is the seventh player in St. Lawrence history to be named a top-10 finalist for the award, and the first since Kennedy Marchment and Brooke Webster in 2017.

Patty Kaz: Abby Hustler (School: St. Lawrence, Class: Junior Position: Forward, Hometown: St. Louis, Prince Edward Island, Statistics: 55 points in 37 games - 24G, 31A)

“The other girls on the list are so competitive and such good players and athletes, to be put alongside them is so special,” Hustler said. “It’s special to be recognized, and with how many incredible names are out there, it’s an honor to even be in consideration for the award.”

To start the season, Hustler scored 12 goals and 23 points in her first 19 games. But things changed when the calendar flipped to 2024. In January,she scored six goals and 19 points in nine games — tops in the NCAA — and led St. Lawrence on a six-game winning streak, earning her Hockey Commissioners Association Women’s Player of the Month honors.

During the run, Hustler joined the Paul Flanagan ’80 Century Club, recording three assists for her 100th career point in a shutout win against Brown. She currently has 52 goals and 119 points in 113 games played.

“That was really huge,” Hustler said. “I never expected myself to get to that level in the NCAA against the good teams we play in our league. I was excited to get 100 points and join some pretty historic names in school history.”

Hustler said it all started when coaches challenged her after St. Lawrence returned from Christmas break.

“I ran with it and really pushed myself to be a big player coming down the stretch,” Hustler said. “I was fired up to score and play the way I wanted on both ends of the ice. That led to the back end of the month when I put up some higher numbers.”

After the slower start, Hustler has 12 goals and 32 points in her last 18 games, including a recent 15-game point streak. She’s currently tied for seventh in the country with 24 goals and 55 points in 37 games.

“This year, I’ve been able to take another step forward and it’s shown in my production as well,” Hustler said. “I worked very hard in the offseason to make some slight adjustments, and it has paid off for me and also my team. Sometimes bounces go your way and sometimes they don’t. This year, the bounces went my way quite often, but you also have to work for those bounces.”

Hustler has also flashed a flare for the dramatic this season, as she ranks second in the country with 12 power-play goals. Hustler also has five game-winning goals.

“The best players have to come up in big moments, but that also comes with experience,” Hustler said. “For me, the difference between my first two years and this year is that I have the ability to stay composed in bigger moments. It helps give you confidence that you can play in those big moments and play against the best teams.”

Hustler categorized this as a breakout season for her, making a 19-point jump in production, but she’s more excited at the team success that has surrounded it all.

St. Lawrence lost to Clarkson in the ECAC Tournament semifinals this past weekend but earned an at-large bid to the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The Saints will face Penn State on Thursday in Madison, Wisconsin, as St. Lawrence earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017.

“If we weren’t doing so well, it might not feel the same,” Hustler said. “The fact that the team is doing well feels a lot better.”

Regardless of how the season turns out, Hustler still has another season remaining at St. Lawrence where she’s looking to prove herself once again on the national stage.

“I know when you have a successful season, there’s a lot of pressure to follow it up,” Hustler said. “I’m going to focus on regrouping and coming back stronger for next season.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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