EDINA, Minn. – Feb. 3, 2017 – The final weeks of the women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular season, and the opening round of the league playoffs, once again produced several outstanding individual and team efforts – including those of the three student-athletes honored with monthly accolades for January. Wisconsin senior forward Sarah Nurse has been named Offensive Player of the Month, Wisconsin senior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens garnered Defensive Player of the Month honors and Minnesota Duluth freshman forward Sydney Brodt is the league's Rookie of the Month.
Sarah Nurse, Sr., F
Wisconsin (Hamilton, Ontario)
Nurse enjoyed a stellar month for Wisconsin, helping the top-ranked Badgers clinch the WCHA regular season crown and advance to the 2017 Final Face-Off. The senior from Hamilton, Ontario recorded six goals and 10 assists for an NCAA-leading 16 points, while she also paced the country with an average of 2.00 points per game and a +12 rating (matching linemate Annie Pankowski in all three categories).
A prolific playmaker, Nurse tallied a point in seven of the Badgers' eight games, including four multi-point efforts. She assisted on three game-winning goals, helping UW to an undefeated 5-0-3 mark. Nurse opened the month with consecutive three-assist games in Wisconsin's road sweep at Bemidji State, tallied a goal and assist against No. 2 Minnesota Duluth, scored the lone goal in a 1-1 tie Feb. 18 at No. 4 Minnesota, then had a seven-point weekend against Minnesota State in the WCHA Playoffs. After a three-point game (1g-2a) in the opener, she tallied a hat trick and an assist in the Badgers' 6-0, sweep-clinching win to earn WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Nurse enters the 2017 WCHA Final Face-Off tied for third nationally with a WCHA-high 23 goals, while she is 11th with 46 points (fifth in the league). This is Nurse's first career WCHA monthly award.
Honorable Mention: Emily Bergland, So., F, Bemidji State (tied for the team lead with seven points, while tying for fourth in the WCHA with five goals); Hannah Davidson, Jr., F, Minnesota State (tied for the team lead with two goals, while ranking third on the Mavericks with three points); Maddy Field, So., F, Ohio State (one of two underclassmen in the WCHA to have at least 10 points last month, and the only double-digit scorer to record a point in each game, she tied for fourth in the league with 11 points on six goals and five assists); Amy Menke, Sr., F, North Dakota (led the team with seven points on two goals and five assists, while both goals came in the Fighting Hawks' quarterfinal-round series win).
Ann-Renée Desbiens, Sr., G
Wisconsin (La Malbaie, Québec)
Desbiens was once again sensational for top-ranked Wisconsin, leading the NCAA with a 0.61 goals-against average, a .973 save percentage and four shutouts. The senior from La Malbaie, Québec started all eight games, helping UW to an undefeated 5-0-3 record (with all three ties coming against ranked opponents). Her .812 winning percentage tied for tops in the WCHA and was tied for seventh nationally.
A two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Week in February, Desbiens was at her best when the stakes were highest. She came up with 36 saves in a tie and victory against No. 2 Minnesota Duluth on Feb. 11-12, including a shutout in the series finale to clinch the Badgers' second-straight WCHA regular season title. Desbiens then put together back-to-back, 30-plus save performances in a pair of ties at No. 4 Minnesota, stopping 69-of-70 shots on the weekend. Finally, she logged consecutive shutouts in UW's sweep of Minnesota State in the quarterfinal round of the 2017 WCHA Playoffs.
This is the second-consecutive and fourth career WCHA monthly honor for Desbiens. A top-10 finalist for the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, she currently leads the NCAA in five categories: wins (25), winning percentage (.900), goals-against average (0.69), save percentage (.963) and shutouts (15).
Honorable Mention: Jessica Dunne, Jr., D, Ohio State (led the WCHA and ranked third nationally with 28 blocked shots, while contributing five points on two goals and three assists); Jordan Hampton, Sr., D, North Dakota (tallied one goal, two assists, 15 shots on goal and 14 blocked shots, helping the Fighting Hawks advance to the 2017 WCHA Final Face-Off); Anna Keys, Jr., D, Minnesota State (led Maverick defensemen with three assists and four points, while recording 16 blocked shots); Brittni Mowat, Sr., G, Bemidji State (made a league-high 273 saves, while compiling six 30-save performances – including three as the Beavers took Minnesota to the limit in their quarterfinal-round playoff series); Lee Stecklein, Sr., D, Minnesota (recorded six points, with at least one in five-of-nine games, to help the Gophers to a 6-1-2 record and berth in the 2017 WCHA Final Face-Off).
Sydney Brodt, Fr., F
Minnesota Duluth (North Oaks, Minn.)
Brodt was a factor all month long, finding the back of the net in five of Minnesota Duluth's eight games. She led WCHA rookies and tied for fourth nationally with her five goals, helping the No. 2 Bulldogs to a 6-1-2 month and a berth into this weekend's Final Face-Off.
The North Oaks, Minn. native opened the month with a goal in the Bulldogs' 2-1 victory over North Dakota on Feb. 4, then scored UMD's lone tally in a 1-1 tie Feb. 11 at top-ranked Wisconsin. She then scored in both games of a Feb. 17-18 sweep of St. Cloud State, including the game-winner in a 2-1, series-opening victory. Brodt wrapped up the month with her first career postseason goal, scoring in the Bulldogs' 6-2 triumph that finished a quarterfinal-round sweep of the Huskies. An efficient scorer, she led WCHA rookies with .172 goals per shots-on-goal.
This is the first career WCHA monthly award for Brodt, who enters the 2017 WCHA Final Face-Off tied for second among league freshmen with eight goals and third with 21 points.
Honorable Mention: Demi Gardner, Fr., F, Minnesota State (led Maverick freshmen with two goals, two assists and four points, while her nine blocked shots led all MSU forwards); Ryleigh Houston, Fr., F, North Dakota (led Fighting Hawk freshmen, and was second in the WCHA, with six points on two goals and four assists); Haley Mack, Fr., F, Bemidji State (posted three points on two goals and an assist, while logging 49 face-off wins); Abby Roque, Fr., F, Wisconsin (led WCHA freshmen with eight points on four goals and four assists, tallying a pair of three-point efforts during the top-ranked Badgers' run to the league regular season championship and berth in the 2017 WCHA Final Face-Off).