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Nathan Wells | | January 16, 2019

Here's our predictions for 2019 college hockey award winners

Watch Minnesota's Blake McLaughlin's late game heroics

As the Division 1 women’s hockey season begins its home stretch, it seemed like a good time to take a look at who would be the frontrunners for the Patty Kazmaier Award (given to the top women’s Division 1 player), the top goaltenders and National Rookie of the Year. Of course, there's still a lot of hockey to be played and time for any outliers to make a case for themselves. These are the first half leaders who need to be caught.

Patty Kazmaier Award predictions:

Nominees: Carly Bullock, F, Princeton; Jesse Compher, F, Boston University; Jessie Eldridge, F, Colgate; Loren Gabel, F, Clarkson; Jaycee Gebhard, F, Robert Morris; Elizabeth Giguere, F, Clarkson; Megan Keller, D, Boston College; Alina Mueller, F, Northeastern; Maureen Murphy, F, Providence; Annie Pankowski, F, Wisconsin; Grace Zumwinkle, F, Minnesota

A couple players who took off last season for the Olympics made a major first half impact in their return to their college teams. Keller by far has been the top offensive defender nationally and leads BC on both ends of the ice. Pankowski’s 15 goals leads the Badgers. She has shown the ability to take over games herself. Zumwinkle continues to improve from last year’s second half, ranking third nationally in goals behind Murphy and Gabel. Giguere, last year’s national championship hero for Clarkson, leads the nation in points.

My pick right now: Gabel. While the two-time defending national champions have many offensive weapons, Gabel’s accomplishments stand out on a team that aims to compete for a third straight tile. The senior forward shoots and continues to be rewarded. Besides being second in goals and points, Gabel’s 148 shots on goal this season is more than anyone else. From a per game perspective, her 7.4 shots is over a shot per game ahead of the rest of the nation.   

RELATED: NCAA's look inside the 2018 NWHL Draft

Top Goalie predictions:

Nominees: Andrea Braendli, Ohio State; Kristen Campbell, Wisconsin; Aerin Frankel, Northeastern; Terra Lanteigne, RIT; Abigail Levy, Minnesota State; Madison Myers, Providence; Lindsay Reed, Harvard; Samantha Ridgewell, Merrimack; Lovisa Selander, RPI; Kassidy Sauve, Clarkson
Reed leads all goaltenders with a .954 save percentage. Campbell has been a wall on a Wisconsin team that once again suppresses shots and spent most of the first half atop the rankings. Frankel and Levy, who went to high school together, each have five shutouts. Sauve continues to show why she’s been one of the top goalies in college hockey with her new team. Braendli makes her own mark with Sauve’s old team. Ridgewell has been the number one goalie for Merrimack’s best team yet.

My pick right now: Selander. While RPI hasn’t had the best season compared to some of the other teams represented, it’s a testament to Selander’s skills that the Engineers are near .500. She gives the team a chance to win despite RPI averaging 1.14 goals per game. Facing an average of 32.4 shots per game, Selander has gotten two or more goals of support in only six of her 19 starts. Despite that, the Swedish goaltender has won a pair of 1-0 games and four 1-1 ties. There are goalies on top teams who are winning games with their play, but none are relied upon as heavily, facing as many shots and succeeding like Selander.

National Rookie of the Year predictions:

Nominees: Chloe Aurard, F, Northeastern, Cayla Barnes, D, Boston College; Andrea Braendli, G, Ohio State; Maggie Connors, F, Princeton; Britta Curl, F, Wisconsin; Sarah Fillier, F, Princeton; Tanner Gates, D, Colgate; Taylor Heise, F, Minnesota; Gabbie Hughes, F, Minnesota Duluth; Sophie Jacques, D, Ohio State; Abigail Levy, G, Minnesota State; Alina Mueller, F, Northeastern; Amy Potomak, F, Minnesota; Lindsay Reed, G, Harvard; Sophie Shirley, F, Wisconsin

RELATED: Gophers freshmen adapt quickly to college play
Once again it was difficult to limit down to 10 players, which shouldn’t be a surprise given Boston College’s Daryl Watts was named the Patty Kazmaier Award winner last season in addition to being the national rookie of the year. Even with 15 rookies there are some players left off who made major impacts during the first half. Barnes, who won a gold medal with the US Olympic team last February, is technically a freshman. Braendli, Reed and Levy have each flourished after being thrown into tough spots. Hughes has shown why she has a bright future on a young UMD team. Fillier leads all first-year players in scoring despite Princeton playing fewer games and missing four to play with Hockey Canada.

My pick right now: Mueller. This was a close decision between Mueller and Fillier, who just missed making my Patty Kazmaier nominees, but there isn’t a more consistent player so far this season than the Swiss forward. After being held pointless in Northeastern’s opening game against Boston University in early October, Mueller, who was named the national rookie of the month for October, has at least one point in the last 20. Second among first-year players in points, goals and assists, she’s played a major role in Northeastern’s success throughout the first half.   

Coach of the Year predictions (by conference):

CHA: Michael Sisti, Mercyhurst
ECAC: Cara Morey, Princeton
Hockey East: Dave Flint, Northeastern
WCHA: John Harrington, Minnesota State

RELATED: Princeton's Maggie Connors named topped star of the week after leading the nation in goals

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