EDINA, Minn. – Nov. 5, 2015 – New for the 2015-16 season, the women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) is introducing awards honoring its top players of each month. The inaugural winners were among the NCAA's top performers at their respective positions and classes during the season's opening month, helping their teams remain at or near the top of the league standings and national polls. The October 2015 honorees are: Minnesota sophomore forward Kelly Pannek (Offensive Player of the Month), Wisconsin junior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens (Defensive Player of the Month) and Minnesota freshman forward Sarah Potomak (Rookie of the Month).
Kelly Pannek, So., F
Minnesota (Plymouth, Minn.)
Pannek has been perhaps the most consistent performer on the nation's most prolific offense to date, recording at least one point in all 10 games for a Minnesota team that leads the country by scoring 6.20 goals per contest. An equally gifted scorer and playmaker, the sophomore from Plymouth, Minn. has tallied ten points and ten assists. Her 20 points are tied for second in the WCHA (t-4th NCAA), while she is tied for third in the league with 2.00 points per game (t-6th NCAA). Additionally, she is tied for the WCHA lead with 10 goals and 1.00 goals per game (t-4th NCAA) and is tied for fifth in the league with 1.00 assists per contest (t-9th NCAA). Pannek logged seven multi-point games and three multi-goal contests, while netting a pair of game-winning goals and assisting on a third.
Pannek has also contributed in the face-off circle and on special teams. Her .701 face-off percentage (117-for-150) is tops in the WCHA and fifth nationally. While the Gophers lead the country with a 45.2 percent power-play efficiency (14-for-31), Pannek's seven power-play points lead the league and her three power-play goals are tied for the second-most in both the WCHA and NCAA.
Also nominated: Madison Hutchinson, Jr., D, Bemidji State; Amy Menke, Jr., F, North Dakota; Annie Pankowski, So., F, Wisconsin
Ann-Renée Desbiens, Jr., G
Wisconsin (La Malbaie, Québec)
Desbiens has been, quite simply, spectacular during the season's first month, backstopping a record-setting Wisconsin defense that is the nation's stingiest at 0.20 goals allowed per game. Through her first nine games, Desbiens' 0.23 goals against average and .985 save percentage are the best among all NCAA goalies with more than one start, while she's one of three NCAA netminders with a perfect winning percentage (9-0-0). After leading the nation with seven shutouts during the season's opening month, she now sits in 10th place in NCAA history with 24 career blankings (t-4th in WCHA annals), while her 46 wins rank fifth in program history.
Desbiens has not allowed a goal in the last 440:52, which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history (men's or women's), behind only UW legend Jesse Vetter's streak of 448:32 set between Feb. 9 and March 18, 2007. Thanks to her work in the net, the Badgers have the NCAA Division I ice hockey record with eight-straight shutouts and have ascended to the top of the national polls.
Also nominated: Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Sr., G, North Dakota; Milica McMillen, Sr., D, Minnesota; Brittni Mowat, Jr., G, Bemidji State
Sarah Potomak, Fr., F
Minnesota (Aldergrove, British Columbia)
Potomak was quite possibly the top freshman in all of college hockey during the season's first month, leading all NCAA rookies with 19 points, a +18 rating, 15 assists and averages of 2.38 points and 1.88 helpers per contest. Her assist and assists-per-game totals were also tops among all NCAA players, while she ranked second for points per contest (best in the WCHA).
The two-time WCHA Rookie of the Week has at least one point in each of her first eight collegiate games, including four multi-point efforts. Potomak has a five-point game to her credit (two goals and three assists Oct. 10 vs. St. Cloud State), along with a pair of four-assist efforts. Three times, she has assisted on a Gophers' game-winning goal.
Also nominated: Anna Kilponen, Fr., D, North Dakota