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.
Emma Maltais went to the Frozen Four with the Ohio State women’s hockey team as a freshman last season.
That experience at the highest level of college hockey helped propel the standout forward to a strong sophomore season, putting her in the conversation for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“We got a taste of it last year, making it to the Frozen Four,” Maltais said. “Knowing what that feels like and having that in your back pocket really drives you and motivates you. That passion has built from freshman year. And when you’re older on the team, it puts me in a different position. I think that role is an honor to have, but it’s also more responsibility.”
Maltais is grateful to be considered among the top players in the country.
“This is probably the biggest honor any NCAA player could ever imagine,” Maltais said. “To even be alongside Patty Kazmaier in particular and all the other names in the conversation is incredible. All the names who have ever won just show pure excellence on the ice in helping their team win. Honestly, I’m just trying to help my team win at this point. That’s most important and my focus, and if [the Patty Kazmaier Award] comes, that’s amazing, but it’s truly an honor to be in the conversation.”
Maltais has helped Ohio State to a top-10 ranking in the country. She is also among the nation’s leading scorers with 13 goals and 38 points through 30 games. Maltais was named WCHA Forward of the Month in October and kept the momentum with the Forward of the Week award during the first week of November. Maltais registered 15 points in October, good for No. 3 in the nation.
“It was pretty cool to start off that way,” Maltais said. “I think it’s important to have a good start to the season and I just wanted to keep that rolling because I take pride in my consistency as a player. When you start off well, you can hopefully carry that forward for the rest of the season.”
During her freshman season, Maltais scored 16 goals and 40 points, leading the team and tying for third all-time in rookie points. She was named WCHA Rookie of the Year.
“When I came into the NCAA, it was a bit of an adjustment,” Maltais said. “I was fortunate enough to play in the PWHL [Provincial Women’s Hockey League], so the speed was very high and I had some international experience coming in. I think the comfort level stayed pretty consistent, but I guess I was more nervous for games last year as opposed to this year.”
Maltais and her teammates gained confidence from the school’s first-ever appearance in the Frozen Four. The Buckeyes finished second in the WCHA, winning in the quarterfinals against Minnesota State before falling to Minnesota in the semifinals and securing an at-large bid to the Frozen Four. Ohio State knocked off Boston College on the road before falling in the national semifinals against Clarkson, the eventual national champion.
“It was unbelievable and to date probably my favorite hockey experience,” Maltais said. “Just being alongside the best of the best was a pretty cool feeling. It was with the highest level that a female athlete can play, and I think it was a really cool experience just to be part of it.”
Maltais, a native of Burlington, Ontario, also gained experience and confidence this past summer while playing for Canada’s National Women’s Development Team in a series against the United States Under-22 Select Team.
That confidence stemming from the series against the United States, combined with the Buckeyes’ trip to the Frozen Four, helped Maltais take the next step in her sophomore season.
“That was a really awesome experience,” Maltais said. “It’s always an honor to represent your country. I think every time you play in that jersey and represent your country, you don’t know if it’s going to be your last time. Owning every moment on the ice when you get to wear that jersey is a great feeling. We didn’t get the result we wanted, but it was a good experience to be selected and play in those three games.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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