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DULUTH, Minn. -- Wisconsin forward Brianna Decker was named the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award recipient on Saturday, crowning her as the top NCAA Division I women’s college hockey player.

The junior from Dousman, Wis. leads the nation with 37 goals scored in the 2011-12 season, and, heading into Sunday’s national championship game against WCHA rival Minnesota, Decker is averaging 2.10 points per game with 82 points altogether in 39 games.

She becomes the third Badger to take home the award in the last four years. UW’s Meghan Duggan won the Kazmaier Award in 2011, and former Badger Jessie Vetter was given the honor in 2009.

I honestly don’t think this is an individual award at all. Obviously it’s given to one person, but it comes from the team, and the team makes each player who she really is.
-- Wisconsin forward Brianna Decker

In all, four UW players have now won the award, dating back to Sara Bauer’s Kazmaier triumph in 2006.

The WCHA’s offensive player of the year in 2011-12, Decker beat out North Dakota forward Jocelyne Lamoureux and Northeastern goaltender Florence Schelling to take home the hardware.

Following the award ceremony, Decker gave much of the credit for her winning the Kazmaier Award to her teammates, calling the honor an accolade as much for her team as it is for her as an individual.

“I think that it’s pretty exciting, and it’s quite an honor, but like I said up on the podium, I can’t do any of this without my team,” Decker said. “I give so much credit to them and my coaches because they’ve made me the player I am right now.

“I honestly don’t think this is an individual award at all. Obviously it’s given to one person, but it comes from the team, and the team makes each player who she really is. I think that’s exactly what my team did this year for me.”

Badger head coach Mark Johnson agreed with Decker’s assessment. With the number of UW Kazmaier Award winners bumping up to four this season, he felt that that was a feather in the cap for Wisconsin and what the Badger’s women’s ice hockey program has developed into over the years.

“It’s a big compliment to the players that have passed the torch onto the next group that has come in,” Johnson said.  “Kids have learned and kids have been mentored, and you give them the credit because they’re the ones that have worked, and they’re the ones who have committed themselves.

They’ve taken the time and done all the little things to improve themselves as players, and collectively we’re the ones that benefit. Our athletic department and our hockey program tries to develop players, but they’re the ones that ultimately have to make those choices.

“If you look at [UW’s] four winners, there are a lot of similarities in how they got onto that podium.”