The NC women's ice hockey tournament is officially underway, and we're now down to the top-three finalists for the 2023 Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top player in women's college hockey.
The top-10 list was unveiled on Thursday, March 2, before being whittled down to the top three on Wednesday, March 8.
The finalists are Ohio State's Sophie Jaques, Northeastern's Alina Müller and Colgate's Danielle Serdachny. All three skaters were on my midseason watchlist at the semester break, while Müller and Jaques were also part of my preseason top-10.
The winner will be announced during the Women's Frozen Four weekend at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 18 at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn. NHL Network will also carry the ceremony live.
Here's how the three finalists stack up (all stats through March 8):
Sophie Jaques | Ohio State | Graduate defender
Jaques is a top-three finalist for the second year in a row, establishing herself as one of the nation's top defenders. She was the first Buckeye to be a top-three finalist last season.
The Ohio State captain set a career-high with 22 goals en route to a 46-point campaign, leading all blue-liners in both categories. It is the second year in a row that she notched at least 40 points. Jaques quarterbacked the nation's top power play (32.32 percent), and her eight power play goals sit second in the NCAA.
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Defensively, Jaques blocked 47 shots, which comfortably ranked second for the Buckeyes. With her help, OSU allowed just 1.77 goals against per game, which sits seventh in Division I. Jaques is vying to become the first Buckeye to win the award and is just the eighth player in program history to finish as a finalist.
#SophieForPatty // @_sophiejaques pic.twitter.com/ZLjRYChT2n— Ohio State Women's Hockey (@OhioStateWHKY) March 8, 2023
Alina Müller | Northeastern | Graduate forward
Müller has now been at least a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kaz in each of her five collegiate seasons, and it is the second time that she comes in the top three.
The Swiss star led the Huskies in goals (26) and points (58), earning Hockey East Player of the Year honors before taking home MVP in the Hockey East tournament. The captain made up one-third of what likely was the best line in college hockey, flanked by Maureen Murphy and Chloé Aurard. Müller ranks fourth in the nation in goals and points.
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She factored in on 22 game-winning goals for NU, scoring nine herself to lead the nation. Northeastern went 29-0-0 when she notched at least a point. The program's all-time leader and active NCAA leader in points (252), Müller is vying to become the fourth Northeastern player to win the award. She would join goaltender Aerin Frankel (2021), Kendall Coyne Schofield (2016) and Brooke Whitney (2002).
"Alina works extremely hard and is extremely passionate about the game that we all love so much."— Northeastern Women’s Hockey (@GoNUwhockey) March 8, 2023
🗣️ 2021 Patty Kazmaier Winner @aerinfrankel__ on Alina Mueller#KazMoneyMueller | #HowlinHuskies pic.twitter.com/pta4x4aqLQ
Danielle Serdachny | Colgate | Senior forward
Serdachny had a monster season for the Raiders, becoming the first Colgate player to be named a top-three finalist.
Through 39 games, she has set career-highs in points (70, which shattered the program single-season record of 55), goals (25), assists (45) and points per game (1.80). She leads the nation in points, assists and points per game, while checking in with the fifth-most goals and third-most game-winning goals (six). The ECAC Forward and Player of the Year helped captain the Raiders to their third consecutive conference tournament title with two goals in the championship game.
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Serdachny is now up to 176 points for her career, smashing the program record for career points (previously 164). She's looking to become the first player to win the Patty Kaz in Colgate's history, and she is the first finalist since Jessie Eldridge in 2019.
THE DACHTER IS IN AND THE RAIDERS ARE HERE TO STAY!— ECAC Hockey (@ecachockey) February 25, 2023
A go-ahead goal by captain Danielle Serdachny wins the game for the Raiders to force a game three against the Tigers.#ECACHockey x @ColgateWIH pic.twitter.com/qkUcKWYNXi
All three skaters are more than deserving, so this is a tough call. That said, I'm going to go with Serdachny.
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She was held off the scoresheet just four times this season, the fewest of any of the top-three finalists. Two of those losses came as part of the Raiders' five defeats this season. When she recorded a point, Colgate was 32-3-2.
Her 20 multi-point efforts lead the top three, and she was not a power play merchant. Just four of her 25 tucks came on the advantage, which is tied for the fewest among the finalists.
Serdachny led the nation's third-highest scoring offense (4.15 goals per game) as Colgate (moderately) exceeded expectations in one of the nation's deepest conferences, ranking third nationally right now after checking in at No. 6 in the preseason.
The Raiders 🤝 Scoring early— ECAC Hockey (@ecachockey) March 4, 2023
Danielle Serdachny opens today's #ECACHockey Women's Championship game with a goal just 1:27 seconds in and the Raiders have a 1-0 lead!#ECACHockey x @ColgateWIH pic.twitter.com/QELQfgaawz