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Kaz Watch: Wisconsin's Pankowski Tops Among Players, Volunteers in College Hockey

02/05/2019, 8:30am MST
By Dan Scifo

Badgers standout is a leader on the ice and in the community

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 2019 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner will be announced on March 23 in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Frozen Four in Hamden, Conn.

Wisconsin standout forward Annie Pankowski isn’t just one of the top players in women’s college hockey.

She’s also one of the finest off-ice citizens in the game.

Pankowski, for the third time, is in the conversation for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top Division I women’s college hockey player in the nation. Pankowski was also nominated for the 2019 Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented to the student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to their team, but also the community-at large through leadership in volunteerism.

About The Award

“They’re definitely separate parts of my life, and that’s what helps me be so balanced,” Pankowski said. “I have passion and excitement for both areas of my life and I found something with animals and veterinarian medicine that’s so exciting to me. It’s as thrilling and exciting as hockey always has been.”

Pankowski, a native of Laguna Hills, California, was initially named a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award as a sophomore when she led Wisconsin with 22 goals and 58 points. Pankowski was named a top-10 finalist again during her junior year, and she’s in the conversation again for a third season.

“It was really exciting to be showcased like that two years in a row,” Pankowski said. “I definitely had great years those years and I’m really proud of the way I conducted myself for the University of Wisconsin. This year would be more exciting to make the top-three list, but I’m just grateful to be in the conversation.”

Pankowski said she was surprised to be nominated as a sophomore, and expected it more the second time around as a junior. She’s just honored to be mentioned for a third time.

“It’s the greatest honor you can receive individually,” Pankowski said. “Everyone on our team is excited about winning a national championship, and that’s at the forefront of our minds, but to be in consideration for this honor is exciting. It’s honestly humbling to be on the list of great names that play this sport.”

In addition to her time on the ice, Pankowski is studying zoology with plans to become a veterinarian. She has spent nearly her entire college career volunteering with an organization that trains and pairs service dogs with the visually impaired in Wisconsin and neighboring states.

“It’s something that’s certainly special to me,” Pankowski said. “It was instilled in me at a young age that you had to give back to your sport and community. It’s not always about hockey, it’s about doing something else that’s bigger than us. In Wisconsin, we have a great fan following, so I’m given that platform, and having those two separate parts of my life helps me excel in both areas.”

It’s also an honor for Pankowski to have been nominated for the Patty Kazmaier and Hockey Humanitarian Awards.

“I’m proud that I made a big enough impact to be nominated, and to have the Patty Kazmaier on top of that shows the impact on the ice," Pankowski said. "It’s exciting and not too often you get your name on both lists, so I’m pretty excited about that.”

Pankowski, who became the seventh in school history to record her 100th career assist, has an opportunity to continue her hockey career, as she was selected in the 2018 National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) Draft.

“It wasn’t an option three years ago when I first came into the NCAA, so I see it as bonus hockey,” Pankowski said. “I’m not quite sure where my career is going or if the NWHL is in my future, but if it is, I’m certainly excited about the opportunity that has been presented for women’s hockey.”

Pankowski, who ranks top-10 in program history in goals, assists and points, was the No. 1 pick in the draft, selected by the Metropolitan Riveters.

“It’s what you hope for when you pour yourself into the sport,” Pankowski said. “Not every road has been easy, but I learned a lot about myself and it has made me a better hockey player. To have a reward from the grind of the sport feels good.”

Pankowski was also rewarded in November as a member of the U.S. National Team, which captured a fourth-straight Four Nations Cup championship.

“It’s always nice to win, especially on that stage because you’re playing with the best of the best,” Pankowski said. “To help that group is exciting and it’s always a highlight when you put on the USA jersey. It’s definitely an experience that I treasure, and even though it’s not the easiest of roads, it’s one that I’m honored to be part of.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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