By any measure, it’s been a heck of a year for Clarkson University women’s hockey.
The Golden Knights captured their second national championship in 2017, and had senior forward Cayley Mercer nominated as a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award.
Now junior standout Loren Gabel is trying to follow in Mercer’s footsteps. Gabel, a dynamic forward, is honored to even be in the conversation for this year’s award, which is given to the top female college hockey player in the country.
“It means a lot, because you’re not only winning something in your own league, but you’re winning it in the whole nation for Division I women’s hockey,” Gabel said. “I think it’s pretty meaningful for someone to be chosen for that and it’s pretty meaningful to be named the most outstanding, or best player in college women’s hockey. It’s an amazing achievement for anyone to win that award.”
Mercer didn’t win the award last year, but she was among the final three in consideration. She also made a significant impact on Gabel’s career at Clarkson.
“She always handled everything with an open mind,” Gabel said. “If she had a bad game, which she rarely had, she would get back up, and if she didn’t do well, the next shift, she would go out and do better. Playing with such a good player like her the past two years was a really good experience for me.”
It has paid off for Gabel, who is tied for sixth in the nation in scoring and also tied with teammate and linemate Elizabeth Giguere for the team scoring lead with 15 goals and 35 points. Gabel, the ECAC Player of the Month for October and December, has scored 104 points in 102 career games.
“I really improved as a player both on and off the ice with my skills and strength,” Gabel said. “Every game I work my hardest and try to do my best, and that has really helped me get to where I am at this point in the season.”
Gabel is also taking a cue from Mercer’s leadership.
“I definitely [learned] how our upperclassmen helped me develop as a player, so I try to stay positive with our freshmen and sophomores and lead them in the right direction to become a better player and person,” Gabel said. “Our upperclassmen taught me when I was a freshman and last year, so I try to send it back down to the sophomores and freshmen on this year’s team.”
Gabel burst onto the scene as one of the top freshmen forwards in the country and Clarkson’s top first-year player. She ended second in the nation among rookies with 18 goals, including the first Clarkson freshman hat trick since 2008.
That season, Gabel played alongside senior Shannon MacAulay and junior Genevieve Bannon, both of whom she credits for her successful season.
“They both helped me develop as a player,” Gabel said. “I don’t think I would’ve been able to get nearly as many points without them.”
Gabel helped Clarkson win a national championship last season.
Playing alongside Bannon and Mercer, Gabel ended third on the team in scoring with 22 goals and 42 points, while also tying for the team lead with six power play goals. Gabel was even better during Clarkson’s run to the school’s second-ever national championship with four points in the ECAC semifinals and a hat trick against Cornell in the NCAA quarterfinals.
Gabel scored a goal against Minnesota in the NCAA semifinals and had an assist in the national championship game against Wisconsin, a 3-0 shutout win.
“It was unbelievable to win the national championship,” Gabel said. “I don’t think I ever experienced anything like that in my life. It was an amazing feeling and something I’ll never forget.”
The feeling stemmed from the heartbreak of Gabel’s freshman season when Clarkson advanced to the Frozen Four, but lost in the semifinals. Gabel wants to recreate the experience of her sophomore season when she helped Clarkson to a national championship.
“Just bringing it back to [Clarkson] was an unreal experience,” Gabel said. “I hope to get that opportunity again this year and my senior year as well. Words can’t describe the feeling we had when we won, and I still can’t explain it because it was amazing.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): Kaz Watch