Every weekday from May 23-June 7, we will be looking back at the "Dandy Dozen" moments from the historic 2015-16 WCHA season. Next up on our countdown is…
Moment 4: National Award Winners
The nation's premier women's college hockey conference had no shortage of sensational team and individual performances in 2015-16, with WCHA players from every position on the ice earning national accolades.
Record-setting Wisconsin goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens was named the USCHO National Player of the Year after fashioning arguably the best campaign by a netminder in NCAA history. The junior set the all-time NCAA Division I single-season records (men's and women's) for save percentage (.960), goals-against average (0.76) and shutouts (21), while posting a 33-4-1 mark in 38 games.
Minnesota forward Sarah Potomak was tabbed as the National Rookie of the Year by both the Women's Hockey Commissioner's Association and USCHO. She finished a sensational first season by leading all NCAA freshmen with 39 assists, 54 points, 1.03 assists per game, 1.42 points per game, nine power-play assists and a +55 rating.
Six WCHA players earned CCM All-America honors, led by First Team selections Desbiens and Minnesota forward Hannah Brandt. Blue-liners Courtney Burke (Wisconsin) and Lee Stecklein (Minnesota) were joined by forwards Dani Cameranesi (UMN) and Annie Pankowski (UW) in garnering Second Team accolades.
Brandt (64 points in 36 games for a 1.78 points-per-game average) and Cameranesi (68 points in 40 contests for a 1.70 mark) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in national points-per-game average. Pankowski was seventh in that category, producing 1.45 points each game (58 points in 40 games).
Burke, the Badgers' captain, compiled five goals, 30 assists and a +46 rating while anchoring the NCAA's top-rated defense. Stecklein complemented 30 points (8g-22a) with a +51 rating as the Gophers finished fourth nationally for goals allowed per game.
Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award
WCHA players made 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 recognized by the USA Hockey Federation.
The five WCHA nominees included the only two goaltenders among the top-10 finalists (North Dakota's Shelby Amsley-Benzie and Wisconsin's Desbiens), a pair of Minnesota forwards (Brandt – who was a top-10 finalist in each of her four collegiate seasons – and Cameranesi), and one of just two underclassmen (Wisconsin sophomore forward Pankowski).
Desbiens became the lone netminder among the award's top-three finalists.
The WCHA also led all conferences with nine players on the All-USCHO Women's D-I teams. Wisconsin's Desbiens was named to the First Team; Minnesota's Brandt, Cameranesi, Stecklein and goaltender Amanda Leveille, along with UW's Pankowski, earned Second Team honors; while UW's Burke and Bemidji State defenseman Ivana Bilic garnered Third Team accolades. UMN's Potomak was tabbed to the All-Rookie Team.
"Dandy Dozen" Moments from the 2015-16 WCHA Season
12: Trio of New Coaches Join WCHA
11: Husky Pride
10: Record-Setting Year in Bemidji
9: The Next Level
8: Final Face-Off Championship Game Aired Live on FOX Sports North
7: Kessel Returns to the Ice
6: Brandt Concludes Historic Career
5: Wisconsin Returns to Top of WCHA Mountain