Season in Review: 2014-15 End-of-Season Awards

Player of the Year

Hannah Brandt, Junior, Forward, Minnesota

Honorable Mention: Alex Carpenter, F, Boston College; Marie-Philip Poulin, F, Boston University; Haley Skarupa, F, Boston College

Brandt was named a top-three finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award for the second year in a row, and finished the season as the country’s second-leading scorer with 74 points from 34 goals and 40 assists in 40 games. She posted a 66% success rate in the face-off circle, and led the country in face-off wins with 641, over 100 more than Carpenter at #2. Brandt also was the national leader in plus/minus with a +69 rating. What gave her the edge over Carpenter and Poulin, for me, was her role in the Gophers’ return to the top; she was named Most Outstanding Player at the Frozen Four and made the biggest plays for Minnesota all through that weekend.

Best Goaltender

Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Junior, North Dakota

Honorable Mention: Katie Burt, Boston College; Ann-Renée Desbiens, Wisconsin; Amanda Leveille, Minnesota; Emerance Maschmeyer, Harvard; Brittni Mowat, Bemidji State

There were several outstanding goaltending performances this season, with six goalies posting save percentages of .940 or better and a total of 13 with save percentages upwards of .930. But Amsley-Benzie was the best year with a save percentage of .952 and a goals-against average of 1.21. She also posted nine shutouts, setting new school single-season and career records in that category. She finished with an 18-7-3 record and was UND’s most valuable player this year, helping the team climb back into the national tournament picture with a great second-half push.

Best Defenseman

Emily Pfalzer, Senior, Boston College

Honorable Mention: Ivana Bilic, Bemidji State; Shannon Doyle, Boston University; Sarah Edney, Harvard; Halli Krzyzaniak, North Dakota; Rachel Ramsey, Minnesota; Lee Stecklein, Minnesota

Pfalzer was dynamite all season long for the Eagles, taking a big step up this year to truly become a catalyst for the team on the back-end. She posted eight goals, 34 assists, and 42 points to lead all defensemen nationally in scoring. She also led the country with a +62 rating, and chipped in 27 blocked shots and 12 points on the power play.

Best Two-Way Forward

Marie-Philip Poulin, Senior, Boston University

Honorable Mention: Stephanie Anderson, Bemidji State; Josefine Jakobsen, North Dakota; Shannon MacAulay, Clarkson; Rebecca Vint, Robert Morris

What is remarkable about Poulin is how her excellent offensive play has always been matched by her play without the puck. She was the country’s fifth leading scorer this season with 54 points (27 goals, 27 assists), and won 61.9% of her draws in the face-off circle. Aside from being one of the most talented players in the world, Poulin is also one of the most responsible defensively and is generally exceptional in all situations.

Rookie of the Year

Annie Pankowski, Forward, Wisconsin

Honorable Mention: Katie Burt, G, Boston College; Taylar Cianfarano, F, Quinnipiac; Kenzie Kent, F, Boston College; Kelly  Pannek, F, Minnesota; Shea Tiley, G, Clarkson

Pankowski led Wisconsin in scoring with 21 goals, 22 assists, and 43 points, and helped the Badgers capture the WCHA Championship and return to the Frozen Four for the second year in a row. She was just a point off the country-wide rookie scoring lead, but led all freshmen in goals, points per game (1.10), and shots on goal (181).

Breakout Player of the Year

Dani Cameranesi, Sophomore, Forward, Minnesota

Honorable Mention: Laura Bowman, F, Penn State; Sydney Daniels, F, Harvard; Kelsey Koelzer, D, Princeton; Cayley Mercer, F, Clarkson

After a very good rookie season last year that saw her score 19 goals and 36 points, Cameranesi nearly doubled that output. As a sophomore for the Gophers, she became a central part of the offensive game plan, posting 23 goals, 42 assists, and 65 points to jump up to fourth nationally in scoring.

First Team All-America

Hannah Brandt, Junior, F, Minnesota
Alex Carpenter, Junior, F, Boston College
Marie-Philip Poulin, Senior, F, Boston University
Emily Pfalzer, Senior, D, Boston College
Rachel Ramsey, Senior, D, Minnesota
Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Junior, G, North Dakota

Second Team All-America

Dani Cameranesi, Sophomore, F, Minnesota
Brianne Jenner, Senior, F, Cornell
Haley Skarupa, Junior, F, Boston College
Sarah Edney, Senior, D, Harvard
Lee Stecklein, Sophomore, D, Minnesota
Brittni Mowat, Sophomore, G, Bemidji State

Honorable Mention: Kendall Coyne, F, Northeastern; Jillian Saulnier, F, Cornell; Halli Krzyzaniak, D, North Dakota; Emerance Maschmeyer, G, Harvard

All-Rookie Team

Kenzie Kent, F, Boston College
Annie Pankowski, F, Wisconsin
Kelly Pannek, F, Minnesota
Savannah Harmon, D, Clarkson
Megan Keller, D, Boston College
Shea Tiley, G, Clarkson

Honorable Mention: Victoria Bach, F, Boston University; Taylar Cianfarano, F, Quinnipiac; Stephanie Grossi, F, Syracuse; Alexis Joyce, D, Bemidji State; Katie Burt, G, Boston College

News Wrap: Potter named Ohio State coach, Canada announces strength and conditioning camp invites

Ohio State named former U.S. Olympian Jenny Potter as head coach earlier this week. Potter comes to the Buckeyes after spending the past two seasons at the helm for Trinity College (Division III). She is a four-time Olympian, winning gold in 1998, silver in 2002 and 2010, and bronze in 2006. Potter also helped Team USA to four IIHF Women’s World Championship titles during her lengthy international career, and was inducted into the University of Minnesota Duluth Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.

Other News

Link Round-Up: NWHL Launch

The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) officially launched on Monday night in New York City. Here are links to coverage of the event and the league from various news outlets:

News Wrap: CWHL parts ways with Murphy and Kirby, Quinnipiac’s Seeley resigns

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League announced yesterday that it has “terminated its contracts” with two Boston Blades personnel, head coach Digit Murphy and general manager Aronda Kirby. In its press release, the league mentioned that it was unable to reach an agreement with Murphy and Kirby regarding a trademark application, and filed a notice of opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Mike Burse over at Outlook Hockey has more insight and information on the situation based on what’s publicly available, but as he notes, the dispute appears to be over the Boston Blades stick logo word mark:

Boston Blades Logo

CWHL spokesperson Jennifer Smith stated in the press release that the league does not have any further comment at this time. Neither Murphy or Kirby has made an official statement as of now, but Murphy has posted a couple of interesting tweets, including this one from this morning:

These are just my own thoughts, but the situation becomes even more interesting with the announcement of the National Women’s Hockey League a few weeks ago. One of the NWHL’s four franchises will be based in Boston (the Boston Pride), and I can’t help but wonder what this means for the future of both leagues there.

Other News:

  • Quinnipiac’s Rick Seeley resigned his position as head women’s hockey coach on Thursday. Seeley was reportedly under investigation by the university after allegedly grabbing a player by her jersey during the team’s 2015 NCAA Tournament quarterfinal game against Harvard, according to Q30 Television, Quinnipiac’s official student-run television station.
  • Wisconsin senior forward Brittany Ammerman was named recipient of the 2015 Hockey Humanitarian Award yesterday. Ammerman founded the Nikumbuke Women’s Soccer League in rural Kenya in 2013 after she visited the area through a program called Health by Motorbike.
  • The CWHL announced on Thursday that registration for the 2015 Entry Draft is now open.

Suggested Reading:

Women’s World Championships: USA, Canada will play for gold, Japan to stay in top division

As has been the case in every Women’s World Championship tournament so far, the United States and Canada will meet again for gold. After semifinal losses, Russia and Finland will battle it out for bronze, and in relegation action, Japan claimed a spot in the top division of the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championships.

United States 13, Russia 1

After a 9-2 win over the Russians in preliminary round action, the Americans simply picked up where they left off in the day’s first semifinal match-up. It was the strongest offensive performance of the tournament so far.

Russia looked like it was going to make things interesting on the very first shift, as Iya Gavrilova got her team on the board first just 44 seconds into the game. Unfortunately for the Russians, they would not be able to get through Team USA’s defenses again, and couldn’t do much to slow the oncoming offensive outburst.

Brianna Decker scored twice in four minutes after the halfway mark of the period, and the United States never looked back after gaining a 2-1 lead. Decker finished with a hat trick and four points, while defenseman Monique Lamoureux equaled her output with four points of her own.

Some of Team USA’s younger faces got some scoring going, as Zoe Hickel, Dana Trivigno, Megan Keller, Emily Pfalzer, and Haley Skarupa all netted goals. Hannah Brandt, Alex Carpenter, and Hilary Knight all added goals as well, while Knight posted a three-point afternoon.

USA vs. Russia (SF) – 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship from IIHF on Vimeo.

Canada 3, Finland 0

The Finns didn’t let the Canadians get very comfortable with the score for much of this game, but the Canadians didn’t falter, and looked very much in control throughout.

Marie-Philip Poulin got the scoring started early in the first, picking up the rebound of her own shot while entering the zone on the power play. Finland, namely the goaltending of Meeri Raisanen, did not let Canada extend that 1-0 lead through the first two periods.

After a miscue behind the cage that left the net wide open, Natalie Spooner made it a 2-0 game just 25 seconds into the third period. Spooner scored again unassisted halfway through the period on a pretty, pretty move to beat a Finnish defenseman, putting the Canadians up 3-0.

Ann-Renée Desbiens was in net for Canada and picked up her second shutout in two games played at this tournament. Finland came on a bit stronger in the third while facing a bigger deficit, but Desbiens turned away all 10 shots she saw for a game total of 19.

Japan 2, Germany 1 (OT)

In the relegation round, Japan picked up another overtime win to claim the series and keep its spot in the top division for the 2016 World Championships.

Ami Nakamura scored first for the Japanese on the power play just four minutes into the game. They held that lead until late in the second, when Germany tied it up at 1-1 with a power-play goal of its own. Anna-Maria Fiegert got the equalizing goal.

After a scoreless third, the teams headed to overtime, where Kanae Aoki scored on the first shot of the period to lift Japan to the win.

Nana Fujimoto finished the game with 21 saves for Japan, and ends the tournament with a .938 save percentage and 1.52 goals-against average.

What to Watch For Tomorrow

The bronze medal game is up first, with Finland and Russia set to go head-to-head at 6 a.m. (ET). The Finns won the round-robin match-up between the two, though the 3-2 victory came in the shootout.

Iya Gavrilova has certainly been strong for the Russians, as has Olga Sosina, so I would expect both to be involved in the offense tomorrow for Russia. For Finland, the top-line duo of Michelle Karvinen and Susanna Tapani is always dangerous, and so is captain Jenni Hiirikoski from the back-end. Finland’s power play has been effective in this tournament, with three goals on 14 attempts. Both goals they scored against an actual goalie in the quarterfinal win against Switzerland came on the power play; Russia needs to be strong on the penalty kill to take that weapon away from the Finns.

Canada and the U.S. will then face off for gold at 10 a.m. (ET). Universal Sports will have coverage in the United States, and you can sign in with your provider online. In Canada, TSN will have both of these games.

Team USA won the tournament-opening match-up between these two teams, behind one of the most dominating performances it’s had against Canada in recent years. The Americans outshot them 34-11 and carried the play for much of the game.

Canada’s scoring chances were limited in that first game, which was good on the part of Team USA; however, when they were able to break through the American defense, they found the back of the net, as both of their goals showed. Both of those goals also came in transition, an area that the U.S. needs to be wary of. With a fairly young defense that’s not exactly stay-at-home-minded, they don’t want breakdowns going the other way to be an issue.

As Canada showed in that first game, when they create offense, they don’t have much of an issue scoring. The key in this one will be sustaining offense. They will undoubtedly be facing heavy offensive pressure from the Americans, but they need to build an attack of their own. Canada’s go-to line Brianne Jenner, Natalie Spooner, and Jenn Wakefield will play a huge part in that, just as they’ve done all tournament long. Kelly Terry, Sarah Davis, and Jess Campbell had a strong game today against Finland, and if they can help the Canadians win the lower-lines battles, they’ll be in good shape.

Women’s World Championships: Finland, Russia advance, Japan claims overtime win

On Wednesday, Finland defeated Switzerland and Russia defeated Sweden and moved on to the semifinals, where the United States and Canada await. In relegation round action, Japan took a 1-0 lead over Germany in the three-game series.

Quarterfinal #1: Finland 3, Switzerland 0

It was a fairly convincing win for the Finns, who outshot Switzerland by a two-to-one margin while posting a shutout. Finland will meet Canada in the semifinal game at 10 a.m. (ET) Friday.

Finland’s power play propelled them to the win, as the Finns scored two of the three goals with the player advantage to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the third period. Michelle Karvinen made a welcomed return to the line-up and got Finland on the board first late in the first.

After a scoreless second period, Linda Valimaki added another power-play tally just over the halfway mark of the final frame. The Swiss pulled goaltender Florence Schelling for the extra attacker in search of two goals to tie it, but Rosa Lindstedt notched an empty-netter with 3:11 remaining.

Goaltender Meeri Raisanen made 15 saves in the shutout for Finland, while Karvinen posted a two-point effort. Having her available against Canada tomorrow will be key. The Finns played the Canadians tight on Tuesday, and if they can do the same again, having a player with her ability will make a big difference for them.

Finland vs. Switzerland (QF) – 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship from IIHF on Vimeo.

Quarterfinal #2: Russia 2, Sweden 1

Two third-period goals pushed the Russians past the hosts and through to the semifinals, where they will face off against Team USA at 6 a.m. (ET) Friday.

The Russians and Swedes played each other scoreless for nearly two full periods. But Anna Borgvist continued her hot play and put Sweden up 1-0 with just over a minute left in the second.

It was a fairly even game throughout its entirety, but Russia took advantage of a couple of chances in the third to put itself on top. Iya Gavrilova tied it up within the first six minutes, and Olga Sosina scored with 5:26 left to pull the Russians ahead, 2-1. Sweden couldn’t get Sara Grahn out of the net until there were just 33 seconds left on the clock, and couldn’t find an equalizer in that time.

Gavrilova and Sosina each finished with a goal and an assist. Goaltender Maria Sorokina made 24 saves in the win. Goaltending is obviously going to be huge against the United States; the Americans won the last match-up 9-2 on Tuesday, outshooting the Russians 49-5. Russia will need a near-miraculous goaltending performance if it hopes to hold off the American offense and move on to the gold medal game.

Russia vs. Sweden (QF) – 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship from IIHF on Vimeo.

Relegation Round: Japan 3, Germany 2 (OT)

Japan mounted a multi-goal comeback on Wednesday to top Germany in the first game of the relegation round series and take a 1-0 lead.

Marie Delarbre got the Germans on the board first within the first eight minutes of the game, scoring a power-play goal to give her team a 1-0 lead. Delarbre scored again early in the second to put Germany up by two. Japan found an answer from Rui Ukita before the end of the period, as the scored with 40 seconds to go to cut the lead in half.

The Japanese got the tying goal from Hanae Kubo just 3:30 into the final period. They continued to press for the go-ahead goal, outshooting the Germans 11-5 in the third. But Jennifer Harss turned aside the rest of the shots she faced to help force overtime.

With only 59 seconds before the game would head to a shootout, Haruna Yoneyama netted the game-winner for Japan, who now has a great shot at remaining in the top division at the 2016 World Championships.

Japan vs. Germany (Rel. 1) – 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship from IIHF on Vimeo.

Remaining Schedule

Friday, April 3
Semifinal #1: United States vs. Russia, 6 a.m. EST
Relegation round: Japan vs. Germany, 8 a.m. EST
Semifinal #2: Canada vs. Finland, 10 a.m. EST

Saturday, April 4
Bronze medal game, 6 a.m. EST
Relegation round (if necessary): Japan vs. Germany, 8 a.m. EST
Gold medal game, 10 a.m. EST