For the first time in the history of the Patty Kazmaier Award, all three finalists will represent the same team. Minnesota Golden Gophers players Megan Bozek (defense), Amanda Kessel (forward) and Noora Raty (goaltender) will be vying for the prestigious award.
This titanic trio has been essential in the Gophers enjoying a 36-0-0 season, complemented by a 44 game winning streak. While all three play different positions, and have different backgrounds, there is no question that they share an unbridled determination and enthusiasm for the game.
Let's take a look at the three finalists.
Originally from Illinois, Bozek ranked second among all NCAA defenders in scoring with an astounding 52 points (18 goals, 34 assists). Serving as the team captain, the senior surpassed Winny Brodt as the all-time scorer among defenders in program history.
Bozek is known for her charity work, and was nomination for the 2013 Hockey Humanitarian Award. Also, in addition to the Gophers, Bozek is a member of the United States national team.
The younger sister of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel, Amanda has emerged out of his shadow by winning the NCAA scoring title.
On the strength of 43 goals and 51 assists, her 94 point season is one of the greatest in the history of the Golden Gophers program. She also managed to lead the NCAA in points per game, goals per game, assists per game and short-handed goals.
And she is only a junior.
The possibility of a 100 point season with the Gophers in 2013-14 is a very strong one.
During the 2012-13 campaign, Noora Raty rewrote the NCAA goaltending record books. She has accumulated a sparkling 33-0-0 record, while setting a new single season record for most shutouts in one season with 15.
By posting 15 shutouts, she managed to tie the legendary Jessie Vetter as the all-time leader in shutouts. Complemented by a goals against average of 0.93, Raty also broke Hillary Pattenden’s career mark of 100 wins to emerge as the NCAA all-time wins leader.
Should Raty claim the award, it would be a historical win for the talented netminder. In the history of the award, no European born player has ever claimed it. With Raty having set various records this season, the Patty Kazmaier Award would be a unique way to finish off a historic career.
Despite a storied tradition, Krissy Wendell is the only Golden Gophers player to have claimed the Patty Kazmaier Award, having won in 2005. Bozek and Kessel are both first time nominees while Raty was a finalist in 2012.
Since all three are worthy of the award, there is no question that voters will have a difficult decision to make.
While the award is an honor for any of these remarkable Golden Gophers athletes, the three have another objective. For these prodigious players, finishing the season undefeated with a Frozen Four title would bring a fairy tale ending to a magical dream season.
The winner of the 2013 award shall be named on March 23 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.