On Thursday morning, Boston College women’s hockey defenseman Megan Keller was named by the USA Hockey Foundation as one of the three finalists for the 2019 Patty Kazmaier Award, which is given annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey.
Keller, who led the Eagles in the regular season with 41 points, joined Wisconsin forward Annie Pankowski and Clarkson forward Loren Gabel as the top three vote-getters from a field of 10 semifinalists. The trio was chosen by a 13-person committee consisting of coaches, media, and USA Hockey representatives.
The award will be presented as a part of the NCAA Frozen Four weekend on March 23 in Hamden, Conn.
Keller previously was a top-10 finalist in 2017, but missed the cut for the final three, as Wisconsin goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens went on to win the award. Keller didn’t play for BC last season, instead traveling to Pyeongchang, South Korea, and winning an Olympic gold medal with the U.S. National Team. Her return to the Heights has been nothing short of successful, picking up where she left off as arguably the team’s most important player.
The Farmington Hills, Mich. native led all defensemen in points (41), goals (18), assists (23), goals per game (0.55), points per game (1.24), and game-winning goals (5). Her overall ranks were impressive, too, as she finished 16th in points per game, 21st in assists per game, and tied for sixth in power-play goals (6).
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Keller was poised for a strong year, as she led all members of the U.S. team in shifts played (152) during the Olympics and tied defense partner Emily Pfalzer for the best plus-minus at +5. After failing to register a point in two of her first four games back with the Eagles, Keller would go on a 10-game points streak and would be held off the scoreboard just five times in the next 26 games.
Keller is the fourth BC player in the last five years to be named a top-three finalist, joining 2017-18 winner and current teammate Daryl Watts and 2015-16 finalist and 2014-15 winner Alex Carpenter. Watts won last year on the strength of an 82-point campaign, while Carpenter had a similarly impressive 81-point year in her trophy-winning season.
She’ll face an uphill battle to beat out Gabel and Pankowski, though, as just one defenseman in the 22-year history of the Patty Kazmaier Award has won—Harvard’s Angela Ruggiero back in 2004. Ruggiero was also the nation’s highest-scoring defenseman in her winning year and was a four-time finalist for the award.
Should Keller claim the award at the brunch ceremony in March, BC would be just the third program—joining Harvard and Wisconsin—to have a player win in consecutive years.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff