DULUTH — The highest individual honor in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey is named for Patty Kazmaier, who was a standout defenseman at Princeton from 1981-86. She died of a rare blood disease in 1990 at the age of 28.
Despite Kazmaier being a blueliner who led the Tigers to three straight Ivy League titles, Harvard’s Angela Ruggiero in 2004 was the only defenseman to ever win the award since its inception in 1998.
That finally changed on Saturday when Ohio State guard Sophie Jaques was announced as the 2023 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner, one season after being passed by Minnesota forward Taylor Heise as a top-three finalist .
“I’m definitely so honored and humbled to be on this list and to be one of the two defensemen is incredible,” Jaques said. “I’m so happy to get some recognition for great defensive play and I hope there are so many more defenders to win in the future.”
The first Buckeye to ever win the award, Minnesota Duluth coach Maura Crowell called Jaques “a program-changing player” and “a special category of player” on March 3 following the Bulldogs’ 2-1 loss to OSU in WCHA final showdown. semifinals at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
Buckeyes coach Nadine Muzerall said Saturday that no matter how many kids enter the transfer window or how many kids grow up to be the next generation of elite hockey players, another defenseman like Sophie Jaques will be “a very hard person to find. .”
“There’s been a lot of great forwards, but that seems to be the norm,” said Muzerall, who scored more than 200 points in his four seasons as a forward at Minnesota in the late 1990s and early 2000s. had someone who can score 60-65 more points. But to find a defenseman who scores as often, produces as many points, stays out of the box, is clutch on the penalty kill and five-on-five, and the defensive side of things as well… how do you find a defenseman like that caliber?”
Jaques helped lead the Buckeyes to their first NCAA championship a year ago with a win over UMD at Penn State, and she has OSU back in the national championship game Sunday at 3 p.m. against Wisconsin at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Minnesota center Taylor Heise won the award last year. The Gophers were eliminated in the national semifinals on Friday with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Badgers.
2023 FROZEN FOUR
What the: NCAA Championship Game
WHO: Ohio State vs Wisconsin
When: 3 p.m., Amsoil Arena, Duluth