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.
Emily Pfalzer was too young to remember, but she’s been told that when she was just 2 or 3, she would bang on the back door of their house, demanding to be let out to play with her older brothers on the backyard rink.
“My mom wanted me to be a figure skater, but I did not like that, so I wanted to do what my brothers did,” said Pfalzer.
By the time she was 4, she was playing on her first organized hockey team. She followed her brothers onto the ice and never left.
“I just wanted to do what they did, and I just fell in love with the game,” she said.
The game has taken her a long way. Now a senior at Boston College for the top-ranked Eagles, Pfalzer ranks as the top-scoring defenseman in the nation and is tied for 13th overall, with 41 points (eight goals, 33 assists) in 32 games.
Though she’s often one of the smallest players on the ice at just 5-foot-2, Pfalzer is also among the best. Over the past three seasons she’s raised her point total from 17 to 25 to 41, and this season is averaging 1.28 points per game, almost double her career best coming into this season. She’s also among the team leaders in blocked shots.
As a junior she was selected Hockey East’s Best Defenseman and a first-team all-star, improving on her second-team all-star status as a sophomore. As a freshman, she was a unanimous pick for the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.
Boston College coach Katie King Crowley told a reporter earlier this season that Pfalzer has been exceptional and has improved steadily through her seasons at B.C. King Crowley said Pfalzer, now completely healthy and fit after an injury two seasons ago, is a “dynamic player.”
“Not only has she done it for us on the ice, but she’s also been a tremendous leader for our kids, off the ice and on the ice,” King Crowley said.
Pfalzer has paired with Lexi Bender to give the Eagles a high-scoring, hard-working tandem of defensemen.
Pfalzer grew up playing boys’ hockey, so she says bigger opposing forwards don’t really give her a problem. She has quick feet, good speed and plays solid defense.
“I’m used to the physicality of it, so I just try to use my leverage and my strength to my advantage,” she said.
Associate head coach Courtney Kennedy, a former standout defenseman at the University of Minnesota and with the U.S. Olympic Team, told B.C.’s student newspaper, The Heights, that Pfalzer’s height never has been a factor. Kennedy says Pfalzer has “ridiculous” agility.
“You just kind of notice, to be honest with you, a small defenseman doing a lot of work out there,” Kennedy said. “But I never thought, ‘Wow, is she too small?’ Height never even factored in because the kid plays with so much punch.”
Pfalzer, from Getzville, N.Y., also is outstanding in the classroom. A pre-med student and biology major, she was selected last year as Outstanding Scholar-Athlete for the junior class at B.C.
She’s also been a part of the USA Hockey development program and recently played for the first time as a member of the senior national team in the Four Nations Cup, where she scored two goals and had an assist in four games.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “It was something I’ve always dreamed of doing.”
Now, she and her teammates are working on another dream, an NCAA championship. In Pfalzer’s time at Boston College, the Eagles have come close. Three years ago they lost in the Frozen Four semifinals to the University of Wisconsin. Two years ago, they lost in overtime to Minnesota. Last season, eventual-champion Clarkson University beat them in the NCAA quarterfinals.
This season, she’s excited about their prospects, but she knows anything can happen. She’d just like another shot in the Frozen Four.
“It definitely makes you want to get back to that point and win that semifinal game and then, hopefully, win that national championship game,” she said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
McNamara Alumni Center- University of Minnesota
10:30 a.m. – noon