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Patty Kazmaier Award Confirms Izzy Daniel Belongs in Elite Company

03/26/2024, 10:15am MDT
By Nicole Haase

Daniel is the first player from Cornell to ever win the award.

After winning the Patty Kazmaier Award on Saturday night, Izzy Daniel spent time studying the names of other winners engraved upon the trophy with a look of awe on her face. 

The Cornell senior and Minneapolis native specifically mentioned Taylor Heise, who Daniel grew up playing with and against. A force on the U.S. Women’s National Team and now playing PWHL Minnesota, Heise is someone Daniel has long looked up to. 

“To have my name on the trophy with those types of players — it's kind of like a ‘wow’ moment,” Daniel said. “That I'm there with them in that elite company? It's hard to put into words.” 

Daniel was announced as the 2024 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner on Saturday at a ceremony that took place at the Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, New Hampshire, as part of the women’s Frozen Four weekend. 

Daniel is the 27th winner of the award and the first winner from Cornell University.

The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is annually presented to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey. Selection criteria includes outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Consideration is also given to academic achievement and civic involvement.

Daniel was selected from a group of three finalists that included senior forward Casey O’Brien and sophomore forward Kirsten Simms, who both play for Wisconsin. 

In her acceptance speech, Daniel was effusive in her praise for her teammates, her coaches, her family and the experience she had playing at Cornell. 

“Winning this award is just a testament to the care and support that I've received from my coaches, teammates and family and I really can't thank them enough,” she said. 

Cornell head coach Doug Derraugh said Daniel has had difficulty thinking of herself in the same category as past winners of the award, but he hopes being named the winner helps her see that she has so much to offer. 

It took Daniel until her senior year in college to really believe in herself and that she was one of the best players in the country. She gained confidence and learned to trust in herself and the work she’d put in to get to this point.

She’s still a bit uncomfortable singing her own praises, but Daniel is proud to be the player who represents a storied Cornell program that boasts numerous Olympic and World Championship gold medalists, many of whom she’s looked up to and modeled her game after. 

“This is a combination of all the hard work that I put in throughout my career,” she said. “To finally hear myself recognized, it is a shock, but I'm kind of like, ‘You know what? I did it!’ I should believe in myself because I can do it. This is definitely another confidence boost heading into the rest of my career.”

Daniel, the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and Forward of the Year, led Cornell to a 25-8-1 record and a NCAA Regional Final appearance. She was third in the nation with 1.74 points per game and amassed 59 points on 21 goals and 38 assists, which led her conference. 

She hopes her Patty Kazmaier Award can serve as inspiration for younger players that might not be the best player on their team or may have not been named to state, regional or national teams and felt dejected or like they should give up. 

“You have to keep working,” she said. “Work when no one's watching, and you never know what will happen. You're probably going to come out on the other side a better person and a better player. So just work when no one's watching. Do the hard things. Do the little things even if you don't want to and it'll pay off in the end.”

Derraugh echoed that idea, saying that he saw Daniel use missing rosters as motivation to work harder and learn even more about the game. She spent hours studying videos and improving every aspect of her game. 

“It's a good testament to show that maybe you don't get everything you want when you're young, but if you keep working out, you keep studying the game, learning, getting better doing all those things, you can be up on the stage and win,” he said. 

Derraugh called Daniel the perfect Patty Kazmaier Award candidate as she embodied all the criteria, from being a game-changing hockey player, to her 3.6 GPA, community involvement and sportsmanship — she took just five penalties all season. 

He loves how humble Daniel is and said one of the things that he loves most about her is how much she involves and brings along her teammates. 

“She's a pass first kind of player,” Derraugh said. “She really relies on her teammates and also looks to help them be better and wants them to grow, as well. She wants her teammates to score goals, more so even maybe then herself.

“She loves to study the game. That's why she's really grown and gotten to where she is now.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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