EDINA, Minn. – Feb. 25, 2016 – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) makes up half of the top-10 finalists field for the 2016 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, with an NCAA-high five league standouts – representing three schools – among those named today by the USA Hockey Federation. The honor is bestowed annually upon the top player in NCAA Division I ice hockey and this year will be unveiled at a brunch ceremony at Wentworth By The Sea in New Castle, New Hampshire, on Sat., March 19, as part of the NCAA Women's Frozen Four weekend hosted by the University of New Hampshire.
The five WCHA nominees include the only two goaltenders among the top-10 finalists (North Dakota's Shelby Amsley-Benzie and Wisconsin's Ann-Renée Desbiens), a pair of Minnesota forwards (Hannah Brandt – who has been a top-10 finalist in each of her four collegiate seasons – and Dani Cameranesi), and one of just two underclassmen (Wisconsin sophomore forward Annie Pankowski).
Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Senior, Goaltender, North Dakota (Warroad, Minn.)
Ranks second in the WCHA and fourth in the NCAA with eight shutouts on the season … Ranks third in the WCHA with a 1.60 goals-against average … Ranks fourth in the WCHA with a .932 save percentage … Only goalie in the nation to defeat two No. 1-ranked teams this season … Named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week on Dec. 15 after posting back-to-back shutouts against then-No. 1 Wisconsin … Named WCHA Defensive Player of the Month for December after making 103-of-104 saves during the month … Only goalie in the nation to shutout both Minnesota and Wisconsin this season … Three-time WCHA Scholar Athlete … Holds a 4.0 grade-point average while simultaneously earning both her bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering ... Volunteered with UND French Fry Feed, UND Hockey Fan Festival and Try Hockey For Free Day ... Mentor with the UND chapter of American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Hannah Brandt, Senior, Forward, Minnesota (Vadnais Heights, Minn.)
Fifth in NCAA in points (54) and sixth in goals (24) … Tenth in NCAA with 30 assists … Second in WCHA with 41 points and 19 goals in conference play … Ranks fourth with 24 assists in WCHA games … 16 power-play points is tied for fifth in NCAA … Named 2015-16 WCHA Preseason Player of the Year … Two-time WCHA Offensive Player of the Week … NCAA-best four hat tricks … Minnesota's career leader in points (275) and assists (116) and ranks second in goals (114) … 275 career points ranks fourth in NCAA history … Tied Minnesota record with a five-goal game on November 14 over Bemidji State… Volunteer experience includes Minnesota Hockey, Big Brothers Big Sisters, University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital, Hope Kids, Maplewood Care Center, and area youth hockey associations.
Dani Cameranesi, Junior, Forward, Minnesota (Plymouth, Minn.)
Ranks fourth in goals (28), points (61) and goals per game (0.85), fifth in assists (33) and points per game (1.85), and sixth in assists per game (1.00) among NCAA players … NCAA leader with 12 power-play goals and .243 scoring percentage … WCHA leader in goals (24), points (53), power-play goals (11), and scoring percentage (.253) in conference play … Two-time WCHA Offensive Player of the Month (November, December) and one-time WCHA Offensive Player of the Week … recorded a career-high eight-point series at Ohio State … Has 18 multi-point games including seven multi-goal games … Ranks 11th in Minnesota history in career points (162) … Volunteered with Hope Kids and Hope Day Festival, Special Olympics Minnesota, University of Minnesota Unlimited Dance Marathon, and University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.
Ann-Renée Desbiens, Junior, Goaltender, Wisconsin (La Malbaie, Québec)
Leads the NCAA in goals-against average (0.82), save percentage (.956) and shutouts (16) … Second nationally in wins (28) and win percentage (.891) … 16 shutouts are tied for the second-most in NCAA history and one away from matching NCAA record ... Has eight wins this year against ranked teams ... Set an NCAA record with a scoreless streak of 543:33 ... Her 33 career shutouts are the third-most in NCAA history ... Named WCHA Defensive Player of the Month in October and January ... Earned five WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors and two American Sports Network Player of the Week accolades ... Volunteered at Make Bo Pay and the American Family Children's Hospital.
Annie Pankowski, Sophomore, Forward, Wisconsin (Laguna Hills, Calif.)
Ranks seventh nationally and third in the WCHA in points (52) … Tied for sixth nationally and third in the WCHA in assists (32) … Leads WCHA in power play assists (11) in conference games … Second in the WCHA in power play points (14) in league play … Has registered a point in 29 of Wisconsin's 32 games this season and has 14 multi-point games ... Had a 21-game point streak, which ranks fifth in UW program history ... Named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 5 and Dec. 6 and was named the American Sports Network Player of the Week on Dec. 6 ... Volunteered at the Americans Family Children's Hospital, Toys for Tots, the Goodman Community Center Food Pantry ... Also has taken part in UW's "Flat Bucky" program and skated with the Madison Timber Wolves, an area hockey team for children and adults with special needs.
The three finalists, including the recipient of the 2016 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, will be chosen by a 13-person selection committee made up of NCAA Division I women's ice hockey coaches, representatives of print and broadcast media, an at-large member and representative of USA Hockey, the national governing body for the sport of ice hockey in the United States. The top-three finalists will be announced on Thurs., March 3.
The WCHA has been honored with six recipients of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award: Minnesota's Krissy Wendell in 2005, Wisconsin's Sara Bauer in 2006, Wisconsin's Jessie Vetter in 2009, Wisconsin's Meghan Duggan in 2011, Brianna Decker in 2012 and Minnesota's Amanda Kessel in 2013.
For more information, including how to buy tickets to the March 19 brunch and award ceremony, visit PattyKaz.com.
About the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award
An award of The USA Hockey Foundation, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is annually presented to the top player in NCAA Division I women's ice hockey. Selection criteria includes outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Consideration is also given to academic achievement and civic involvement.
About Patty Kazmaier
The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is named in honor of the late Patty Kazmaier, who was a four-year varsity letter-winner and All-Ivy League defenseman at Princeton University from 1981-86. An accomplished athlete who helped lead the Tigers to the Ivy League Championship in three consecutive seasons (1981-84), Patty Kazmaier-Sandt died on Feb. 15, 1990, at the age of 28 following a long struggle with a rare blood disease.
2016 WCHA Final Face-Off
The premier conference tournament in women's college hockey is returning to the sport's most iconic venue, as the 2016 WCHA Final Face-Off will be held March 5 and 6 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. All-tournament packages or single-season tickets are available for purchase directly through the Gopher Sales & Service Department; in-person at Mariucci Arena (during regular office hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT, Monday-Friday) or during all Gopher Women's Hockey games, via phone at 612-624-8080 (Option 2) or online here.