NCAA-Best Five WCHA Players Among Top-10 Finalists For 2017 Patty Kazmaier Award
Wisconsin's Desbiens and Pankowski, Minnesota's Pannek and Potomak, and Minnesota Duluth's Stalder in the running for college hockey's top individual honor
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Five WCHA players have been named finalists for the 2017 Patty Kawmaier Award

EDINA, Minn. – Feb. 23, 2017 – The women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) makes up half of the top-10 finalists field for the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, with an NCAA-high five league standouts – representing three schools – among those named today by the USA Hockey Foundation. The honor is bestowed annually upon the top player in NCAA Division I women's ice hockey, and this year will be unveiled at a brunch ceremony at Foundry Arts Centre in St. Charles, Missouri, on Saturday, March 18, as part of the NCAA Women's Frozen Four weekend hosted by Lindenwood University.

The five WCHA nominees include the only goaltender (Wisconsin's Ann-Renée Desbiens) and underclassman (Minnesota sophomore forward Sarah Potomak) among the top-10 finalists, along with high-scoring, playmaking forwards Annie Pankowski (Wisconsin), Kelly Pannek (Minnesota) and Lara Stalder (Minnesota Duluth). Desbiens was a top-three finalist for the 2016 award, while Pankowski is a top-10 honoree for the second-consecutive year.


Ann-Renée Desbiens, Senior, Goaltender, Wisconsin (La Malbaie, Québec)

Leads the NCAA in save percentage (.961), goals-against average (0.74), wins (23) and shutouts (13) ... Has a 23-1-4 record in net for UW this season, which includes a 6-1-3 record against ranked teams ... Winning percentage of .893 paces the country ... Named WCHA Defensive Player of the Month for January ... Named American Sports Network Player of the Week on Nov. 8 after breaking the NCAA career shutout record ... Named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 8, Jan. 17 and Feb. 21 ... Accepted in the Wisconsin School of Business to begin her Integrated Master of Accountancy degree ... Volunteers with the Badger Life program and at the Veterans hospital..


Annie Pankowski, Junior, Forward, Wisconsin (Laguna Hills, Calif.)

Ranks third in the WCHA with 1.45 points per game, which is tied for eighth in the NCAA ... Leads the WCHA with 20 goals and ranks fifth in the conference with 22 assists ... Her 42 points rank fourth in the WCHA ... Has 30 points (14 goals and 16 assists) in her last 16 games, helping UW to a 13-0-3 record during the span ... Has team best 14 multi-point games and six multi-goal games ... Named American Sports Network Player of the Week on Jan. 17 ... Named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Nov. 22 ... 2016-17 WCHA Scholar Athlete ... Has volunteered over 300 hours this year with OccuPaws, an organization that helps raise guide dogs ... Also volunteered this year at the UW Children's Hospital, Caleb's Pitch and the Goodman Center Community Food Pantry.


Kelly Pannek, Junior, Forward, Minnesota (Plymouth, Minn.)

NCAA leader with 57 points, 40 assists, 1.73 points per game and 1.21 assists per game ... Tied for third in NCAA with six game-winning goals ... Tied for third in NCAA with a +38 plus-minus rating ... WCHA leader with 44 points, 30 assists, 1.57 points per game, 1.07 assists per game, four power-play goals (tied), eight power-play assists, 12 power-play points, and 403 faceoff wins in 28 league games ... Two-time WCHA Player of the Week ... WCHA Player of the Month for November ... Became the 32nd player in Gophers history to surpass 100 career points ... Had 44 points during a 20-game point streak ... Has at least one point in 28 of 33 games with 15 multi-point games ... Volunteer experience includes University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital, HopeKids, White Dove Foundation, Playworks, Women's Prison Book Project, and area youth hockey associations.


Sarah Potomak, Senior, Forward, Minnesota (Aldergrove, B.C.)

Second in the NCAA with a +39 plus-minus rating ... Tied for sixth in assists (29), seventh in assists per game (0.91) and tied for third in game-winning goals (6), ranks eighth in points (46) and 10th in points per game (1.44) among NCAA players ... Ranks second in assists (24), third in points (38), tied for second in plus-minus (+34); tied for third in game-winning goals (5); tied for fifth in goals (14) and tied for sixth in power-play goals (3) among WCHA players in conference games ... WCHA Offensive Player of the Month for October ... WCHA Offensive Player of the Week ... Became 34th player in Gophers history to reach 100 career points ... Scored first career hat trick in 3-2 win at Ohio State ... Has 13 multi-point games including eight multi-assist games ... Volunteer experience includes University of Minnesota Thank-A-Thon and Gopher women's hockey community appearances.


Lara Stalder, Senior, Forward, Minnesota Duluth (Luzern, Switzerland)

Tied for fourth in the NCAA in points per game (1.57), tied for ninth in goals per game (0.63) in 30 games, and sixth in assists per game (0.93) ... Tied for the most game-winning goals (7) in the nation ... Ranks second in the WCHA in points (47), tied for second in goals (19) and third in the league with 28 assists ... Earned the first-ever Women's Hockey Association Player of the Month for January 2017 ... Named the WCHA's Offensive Player of the Month for January 2017 ... Four-time WCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 11, Jan. 17, Jan. 24 and Jan. 31 ... 2016-17 WCHA Scholar Athlete ... Participated and Volunteered in the Udac Inc. Walk-a-Mile In Our Shoes fundraiser that provides an exercise environment for people of all abilities, UMD Athletics skating party and Laura MacArthur Elementary School outreach program and Skate with the Bulldogs.

The three finalists, including the recipient of the 2017 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 Thursday, March 2.

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 18 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 Feb. 15, 1990, at the age of 28 following a long struggle with a rare blood disease.


About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA)

The women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association has won a record 16 national championships in 17 years since its inception in 1999, while producing six Patty Kazmaier Award winners, 86 All-Americans and numerous Olympic and international team members. The eight-team Division 1 conference consists of: Bemidji State University (Beavers), the University of Minnesota (Golden Gophers), the University of Minnesota Duluth (Bulldogs), Minnesota State University (Mavericks), the University of North Dakota, Ohio State University (Buckeyes), St. Cloud State University (Huskies) and the University of Wisconsin (Badgers). For more information, visit www.wcha.com.