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.
Northeastern standout McKenna Brand has significant ties to the Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top player in women’s college hockey.
Her former teammate, Kendall Coyne, was last year’s winner. And Brand’s childhood hockey role model, the University of Minnesota’s Krissy Wendell, won the prestigious award in 2005.
Brand, who is enjoying a breakout junior season, is just honored to be part of the conversation this year.
“It’s something that’s super humbling,” Brand said. “Patty Kazmaier was an incredible example of hard work and determination on and off the ice, and she left such a great impact on women’s college hockey.”
Brand, a native of Nevis, Minnesota, was inspired by Wendell to try the sport while growing up in the State of Hockey. In fact, Brand wears No. 7 with Northeastern because of her childhood hockey hero.
“I always watched the [Minnesota Golden] Gophers and she was the top player at the time when I was growing up,” said Brand, who met Wendell when she was younger. “I can’t tell you what drew me to her, but she paved a great path for girls growing up in Minnesota wanting to play college hockey and represent their country. She had a pretty big impact on my hockey career.”
Coyne had a significant impact on Brand’s hockey career, too.
“Kendall was great for us last year and it was such a learning experience being on a team with her,” Brand said. “She was an incredible role model to all of us, a great leader and showed what it took to be a great hockey player and person. She helped raise the bar in terms of expectations for the program, and just to watch her approach games and practices with such a high level of intensity was something I wanted to bring to the team this year.”
Brand has done that and more the Huskies. She has played in all 23 games this season and leads the nation with 22 goals. In her first two seasons combined — 74 games — Brand scored 18 total goals.
While Brand is quick to credit linemates Hayley Scamurra and Denisa Krizova, she also attributed success to a carryover of confidence from her sophomore season.
“I think towards the end of last year, I kind of figured out the mental game a little more,” Brand said. “I really had confidence in myself and started to pick it up a little more with production. Coming into the season, I knew I would be relied upon to step up, the coaches have instilled a lot of confidence in me and I’m lucky enough to play on a line with Hayley Scamurra and Denisa Krizova, who are both talented and gifted players.”
Brand, who ranks among the top 13 in points, leads the nation in goals scored, many of which have been significant. Brand leads the team and ranks second in the nation with five game-winning goals. She is also tied for second nationally with three short-handed goals.
“I think it’s being locked in, knowing your role and knowing you need to step up in those key moments,” Brand said. “Points aren’t something I think about too much, but I kind of slid into that role of being a goal scorer. It just kind of happened and I’m having a lot of fun with it. It might sound like pressure in a way, but it’s something I’ve kind of thrived on this year. I always want to win hockey games for my team, and if that’s what’s needed to put the puck in the net, then I’ll do my best to do that.”
It has all been part of a breakout season for Brand, who is in the discussion for the biggest award in women’s college hockey — an award that holds additional significant meaning to the Northeastern standout.
“I’m really enjoying myself this year, taking time to soak in the moment and trying to have as much fun as I can with my teammates,” Brand said. “At the beginning of the year, I didn’t really think I would be where I am now, but I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for my teammates and coaching. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve been enjoying success with my team.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo Credit: Jim Pierce/Northeastern Athletics