Four Harvard Players Among Nominees for Patty Kazmaier Award

Four Harvard Players Among Nominees for Patty Kazmaier Award

Pictured: Christina Kessler, the NCAA record holder for career save percentage (.9414).
Photo courtesy: Gil Talbot Photography

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Senior goaltender Christina Kessler, junior forward Kate Buesser, junior forward Liza Ryabkina and junior defender Leanna Coskren are among 45 players who have been nominated for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, USA Hockey announced Wednesday. The Patty Kazmaier Award is presented annually to the nation’s top Division I women’s college hockey player.

Kessler, a native of Oakville, Ont., is the NCAA career save percentage leader with a .9413 mark, having stopped 1,863 of 1,979 shots during her time with the Crimson. She holds the Harvard program record with 64 victories and 25 shutouts. Kessler owns a 9-3-3 overall record with four clean sheets this season, while ranking fifth in the nation with a .944 save percentage. She also boasts a 1.39 goals-against average, good for sixth in the country, and was twice named ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Week this year. A two-time All-Ivy League and All-ECAC Hockey honoree, Kessler was a RBK/AHCA All-America second team selection as well as the ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year in 2008. An ECAC Hockey All-Academic team choice in 2007, Kessler set a then-NCAA record with 12 shutouts during her sophomore season.

Buesser leads Harvard with 33 points, having netted 13 goals and amassed 20 assists this season. She ranks 19th in the country with 1.22 points per game and stands 17th with 0.74 assists per contest. Buesser, who hails from Wolfeboro, N.H., is second in ECAC Hockey with 30 points in conference games. She has 18 assists in ECAC Hockey contests, good for second in the league, and is fifth with 12 goals. Buesser was twice named ECAC Hockey Player of the Week (Nov. 16 and Feb. 1) and was tabbed to the ECAC Hockey All-Star Team in January. A two-time ECAC Hockey All-Academic team pick, Buesser also boasts a +23 rating this season.

At the blue line, Coskren leads Harvard defenders with 16 points on six goals and 10 assists. A native of Walpole, Mass., Coskren ranks 15th among the nation’s defenders with 0.59 points per game. In ECAC Hockey play, she has lit the lamp six times and added nine assists for 15 points, which places her third in the conference for blue liners. She is tied for first in ECAC Hockey games with 10 power-play points on four goals and six assists and ranks second with three game-winning tallies. Coskren also stands third with four power-play goals and has been a key member of Harvard’s penalty-kill unit, which ranks sixth in the nation (.898 success rate). Harvard also has the country’s second-best scoring defense, allowing only 1.44 goals per game. Coskren has also been selected twice to the ECAC Hockey All-Academic squad.

Ryabkina, who hails from Kharkiv, Ukraine, was named the Beanpot MVP after scoring five goals during the tournament, including four in Harvard’s 5-0 win over Boston College Feb. 2. Ryabkina ranks second on Harvard with 11 goals and is third with 17 points this year. She paces the Crimson with four game-winning goals, which stands eighth in the nation. In ECAC Hockey games, she has netted five goals and dished out five assists for 10 points. Ryabkina has also succeeded in the classroom, having been named to the ECAC Hockey All-Academic team as a freshman in 2008.

In addition, all four Harvard nominees have spent time volunteering in the community. These Crimson players have worked at Cambridge Youth Hockey practices and have tutored underprivileged children in the Cambridge community.

The NCAA Division I women's ice hockey coaches will select the top-10 finalists from among the group of 45 nominees, with the announcement taking place March 2. A 13-member selection committee will choose the three finalists (announced March 9), as well as the award recipient.

Held in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Frozen Four, the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award will be presented at a brunch ceremony on March 20 at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center at 11 a.m. EST.

Tickets to the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award ceremony may be purchased by calling 719-538-1184, or by e-mailing or faxing a completed ticket form, which can be found at Individual seats are $75, while tables of 10 are available for $700.

In its 12-year history, five Harvard players have claimed the Patty Kazmaier Trophy. In 1999, A.J. Mleczko ’97-99 became Harvard’s first winner, followed by Jennifer Botterill ’02-03, who remains the only two-time recipient (2001 and 2003). Angela Ruggiero ’02-04 was honored as the winner in 2004, while Julie Chu ’06-07 and Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-09 took home the trophy in 2007 and 2008, respectively.