Five Canadian-born players are in the hunt for the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top player in NCAA Division 1 women's hockey.
Earlier this week, the USA Hockey Foundation began the search by announcing the top-10 finalists for the coveted award, which will be presented to the winner during the Frozen Four championship weekend on March 18 in St. Charles, Missouri.
Heading the list of players from north of the border is Wisconsin Badgers senior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens from La Malbaie, Que. She was one of three finalists for the Kaz Award last season as a junior, losing out to senior forward Kendall Coyne of the Northeastern Huskies.
Desbiens, who is the lone goaltender in the 10-player field this season, bettered an outstanding 2015-16 campaign with even stronger numbers this past season for the top-ranked Badgers. She leads the nation in goals-against-average with 0.74, save percentage at .961, winning percentage at .893 and shutouts with 13.
She holds the NCAA record for career shutouts with 51 in 113 starts and her 93 career wins ranks her fifth all time. Her career 0.91 GAA and .954 save percentage are also both NCAA records.
The other Canadians named to the list were junior forward Kennedy Marchment (Courtice, Ont.) and senior forward Brooke Webster (Aurora, Ont.), both members of St. Lawrence University Saints, senior forward Cayley Mercer (Exeter, Ont.) of the Clarkson Golden Knights, and sophomore forward Sarah Potomak (Aldergrove, B.C.) of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Marchment and Webster are the leading scorers for the Saints with 52 and 51 points respectively. Marchment tops the club in assists with 34 while Webster is the leading goal-getter at St. Lawrence with 20.
Mercer leads the entire nation in goals with 25 and is second overall in points with 53. The Clarkson assistant captain has also had 18 multi-point games this season and registered a point in 29 of 34 contests.
Potomak, in just her second season with Minnesota, has topped the 100-point career mark, including 46 points in 2016-17, and is second in the nation this season in plus-minus rating with a plus-39.
The other five nominees are junior forward Annie Pankowski (Laguna Hills, Calif.) of the Badgers, junior forward Kelly Pannek (Plymouth, Minn.) of the Gophers, senior defenceman Kelsey Koelzer (Horsham, Pa.) of the Princeton Tigers, junior defenceman Megan Keller (Farmington Hills, Mich.) of the Boston College Eagles and senior forward Lara Stalder (Luzern, Switzerland) of the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
The field of 10 will be whittled down to the final three, including the 2017 Kaz Award winner, by a 13-person selection committee made up of Division 1 coaches, media representatives, an at-large member and a representative of USA Hockey with the final three being announced this coming Thursday (March 2).
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