WCHA Press Releases

WCHA Announces 2020-21 Individual Awards
Annual accolades presented by Sterling Trophy

sterling BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – March 4, 2021 – Prior to having a stellar, four-team field – of which all four teams are ranked in the Top 5 nationally – convene for the 2021 Final Faceoff, the Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association is proud to recognize and applaud six of its standout performances from this year's competition. Below are the 2020-21 WCHA Forward, Defenseman, Goaltender, Rookie, Outstanding Student-Athlete and Coach of the Year, along with the WCHA Scoring and Goaltending Champions, presented by Sterling Trophy.

"This is a fantastic group of honorees," WCHA Commissioner Jennifer Flowers said. "I want to congratulate the recipients who are being recognized for their outstanding accomplishments on and off the ice this season. The WCHA is proud to be the home of so many incredible student-athletes and coaches and we're proud to celebrate this special group who excelled in what has been a most-unusual season this year."

WCHA Offensive Player of the Year, presented by Sterling Trophy

playerDaryl Watts, Sr., Wisconsin (Toronto, Ont.)

A top-10 finalist for the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, Watts has potted 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points. In all games this season she ranks second nationally in point scoring and is one of only 16 skaters to record a hat trick in 2020-21. The Toronto, Ont., native boasts the best points per game (1.94) and goals per game average (0.94) of any player who has played more than two games. She headlines a Badgers offense that ranks fourth in the nation and has tallied two crucial game-winning overtime goals for Wisconsin, including the Julianne Bye Cup clincher against Minnesota Duluth in the final game of the regular season. She saw herself named the WCHA Forward of the Week three times this season as well as the WCHA Forward of the Month in January.

WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, presented by Sterling Trophy

playerAshton Bell, Sr., Minnesota Duluth (Deloraine, Man.)

Bell has tallied 12 points on three goals and nine assists in her senior campaign, ranking her second in the league among defensemen and 11th in the nation. The senior blueliner earned WCHA Defenseman of the Week honors twice this season and also picked up a WCHA Defenseman of the Month nod in November. The Deloraine, Man., native has racked up the best plus/minus rating of any league blueliner, entered the postseason with a +19 rating.

WCHA Goaltender of the Year, presented by Sterling Trophy

playerEmma Söderberg, Jr., Minnesota Duluth (Järved, Sweden)

Söderberg earns Goaltender of the Year honors after leading the WCHA with a .951 save percentage, a 1.34 goals against average and the highest percentage of time played (97.3 percent]. The junior netminder tied for the league lead in shutouts with five, which is also tied for the second most whitewashes in the nation this season. She played in all 16 games for Minnesota Duluth and registered 404 saves on 425 shots. Söderberg has earned WCHA Goaltender of the Week accolades on three separate occasions this season and has received WCHA Goaltender of the Month honors for three consecutive months from December to February.

WCHA Rookie of the Year, presented by Sterling Trophy

playerJamie Nelson, Fr., F, Minnesota State (Andover, Minn.)

Nelson has stood out as a leader among Minnesota State's forwards in her freshman campaign. contributing a WCHA newcomer-best eight goals and adding seven assists for 15 points, ranking her second in point scoring among league freshmen. The freshman forward boasts the most shots on goal of any league rookie at 57 and has registered the most power-play points at three (1g-2a). She has registered 26 blocked shots, outranking all other WCHA freshmen, defensemen included, and was recognized as the WCHA Rookie of the Month for December.

WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year, presented by Sterling Trophy

playerMak Langei, Sr., D, Bemidji State (East Grand Forks, Minn.)

A 2020-21 captain for the Beavers, Langei is a senior biology and pre-dentistry double major with a double minor in business administration and chemist who maintains a 3.96 cumulative GPA and is on track to graduate this spring. Langei is a two-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete, a two-time WCHA All-Academic Team honoree and a three-time AHCA All-American Scholar who has also been named to the Dean's List at Bemidji State each semester. In addition to her scholastic achievements, the senior defenseman provides service to local youth hockey clinics and camps and volunteers for the Bemidji Community 5K Suicide Prevention Walk/Run for Evergreen Youth services and plans to pursue dentistry school after graduation. On the ice, Langei has had a notable senior campaign, closing out the regular season with the second-most blocked shots in the NCAA at 73. She ends her career as a Beaver with 11 goals and 36 assists for a total of 47 points, the third-most among active skaters for Bemidji State and the most among active blueliners.

WCHA Coach of the Year, presented by Sterling Trophy

playerMark Johnson, Wisconsin

In his 18th season behind the Bench for the Badgers, Johnson has led Wisconsin to a 12-3-1 record, a top-two ranking every week of the regular-season and the No. 1 seed in this weekend's Final Faceoff. His Wisconsin team has faced top-7 opponents 10 different times this season, and emerged victories in six of those contests. He leads a roster that features two Top-10 Patty Kazmaier finalists, seven All-WCHA honorees and the WCHA's Forward of the Year. In almost two decade in Madison, Johnson has a career record of 534-95-47 (.824). He is the only head coach in women's collegiate hockey to have surpassed 500 career wins, and is the winningest active women's hockey coach in the NCAA. This year's honor marks Johnson's ninth WCHA Coach of the Year award.

WCHA Scoring Champion, presented by Sterling Trophy

playerDaryl Watts, Sr., Wisconsin (Toronto, Ont.)

For the second consecutive season, Watts emerges as the WCHA regular-season scoring champion, becoming only the third skater in WCHA to win back-to-back scoring-champion titles. In her senior campaign with the Badgers, Watts tallied 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points in just 16 contests. She led the league in assists (16), goals per game (0.94), assists per game (1.00), points per game (1.94) and plus/minus rating (+21).

WCHA Goaltending Champion, presented by Sterling Trophy

playerEmma Söderberg, Jr., Minnesota Duluth (Järved, Sweden)

Söderberg led WCHA netminders with a .951 save percentage and a 1.34 goals against average. The junior netminder tied for the league lead in shutouts with five, which is also tied for the second most whitewashes in the nation this season and boasts the second-best win percentage among her league counterparts with a .688 clip.


About the 2020-21 Individual Awards

The 2020-21 WCHA Forward and Defenseman of the Year were chosen from the All-WCHA First Team forwards and blueliners, respectively. The Goaltender of the Year is the first-team All-WCHA netminder, while the Rookie of the Year was selected from the All-WCHA Rookie Team. WCHA Women's League member team head coaches and assistant coaches vote for the All-WCHA Teams, and then again for these awards. Member institution Faculty Athletic Representatives nominate and vote for the WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year.

About Sterling Trophy

Sterling Trophy has grown into a leader in the award and recognition industry in the Twin Cities since its founding in 1999. A family business that started in the basement of the home of founders David Steinbring and Patty Steinbring, Sterling Trophy's has built a proud tradition of quality service and unique products. For more information, visit sterlingtrophy.net


About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Women's League

The Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association is marking its 22nd season in 2020-21. The nation's premier women's hockey conference, WCHA member institutions have won a record 17 national championships since the league's inception in 1999 (including 16 of a possible 19 NCAA titles), while producing seven Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners, 105 All-Americans and numerous Olympic and national team members. The seven-team, NCAA Division I conference consists of: Bemidji State University (Beavers), the University of Minnesota (Golden Gophers), the University of Minnesota Duluth (Bulldogs), Minnesota State University (Mavericks), The Ohio State University (Buckeyes), St. Cloud State University (Huskies) and the University of Wisconsin (Badgers). The WCHA will grow to eight members with the addition of the University of St. Thomas (Tommies) beginning with the 2021-22 season. For more information, visit wcha.com.