A pair of Canadians and a native of Lucerne, Switzerland are the three finalists for the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in NCAA Division 1 women's hockey.
For the second straight year, Canadian goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens of the top-ranked Wisconsin Badgers (29-2-4) is a finalist for the top individual award. She lost out to senior forward Kendall Coyne of the Northeastern Huskies in 2016.
Joining Desbiens in the final trio is fellow Canuck Cayley Mercer of the Clarkson Golden Knights and Lucerne, Switzerland native Lara Stalder of the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
The winner of the award will be announced on March 18 during the women's Frozen Four in St. Charles, Missouri.
Five other Canadians have won the award in its 20-year history including Winnipeg, Man. native Jennifer Botterill, who won the award twice in 2001 and 2003 as a member of the Harvard Crimson.
The other Canadian award winners were Clarkson's Jamie Lee Rattray from Kanata, Ont. in 2014, Mercyhurst's Vicki Bendus from Wasaga Beach, Ont. in 2010, Harvard's Sarah Vaillancourt from Sherbrooke, Que. in 2008 and Wisconsin's Sara Bauer from St. Catharines, Ont. in 2006.
Desbiens, a senior from La Malbaie, Que., led the NCAA this past season in save percentage with .963, goals-against average at 0.69, wins with 25 and shutouts with 15. She held opponents to one goal or less in 24 of 30 games in 2016-17.
The 23-year-old puckstopper has been named WCHA player-of-the-month twice this season, defensive player-of-the-week four times and American Sports Network national player-of-the-week once.
Only two other goaltenders have captured the award, Jessie Vetter of the Badgers in 2009 and Ali Brewer of the Brown Bears in 2000.
Mercer, a senior forward from Exeter, Ont., led the Knights in scoring this past season with 55 points and powered Clarkson to a 27-4-5 record and No. 3 ranking in the nation. Her 25 goals led the NCAA and she placed third overall in points. The 23-year-old also had 18 multi-point games in 2016-17.
She is the second all-time leading scorer at Clarkson, just 10 points shy of Rattray. In 155 games, she has tallied 77 goals and added 94 assists for 171 points.
Stalder's scoring exploits helped the Bulldogs (24-5-5) to the No. 2 spot in the nation behind the Badgers. The senior finished with 53 points and was second in the country in points-per-game at 1.66.
The final three were selected from a top-10 list that included three other Canadian-born performers.
Joining Desbiens and Mercer on that list were junior forward Kennedy Marchment (Courtice, Ont.) and senior forward Brooke Webster (Aurora, Ont.), both members of St. Lawrence University Saints, and sophomore forward Sarah Potomak (Aldergrove, B.C.) of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
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