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Gophers Darwitz, Wendell named as Kazmaier candidates

Minnesota women’s hockey team members Natalie Darwitz and Krissy Wendell have been named as two of the top 10 candidates for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, USA Hockey announced Monday.

This prestigious award recognizes the accomplishments of the most outstanding player in Division I women’s hockey each season. The duo marks the fourth-straight year that a Gopher has been named a finalist.

Darwitz leads the team in scoring with 24 goals and 28 assists for 52 points. She ranks third in the WCHA scoring with 32 points in 13 games played. Darwitz started the season with a four-point game against Findlay and followed her performance with a hat trick for the series sweep.

After the seven points against Findlay, Darwitz started her rookie campaign with a 14-game scoring run, ending at Minnesota State-Mankato on Dec. 8. In the series against St. Lawrence, Darwitz posted seven points, five of which came in the second game of the series. During that game, Darwitz netted her third hat trick in 12 games and had a plus/minus rating of +5.

Darwitz has three hat tricks, five power-play goals and five game-winning goals, including the game-winning tally in the 4-3 win over Harvard. Darwitz averages 2.48 points per game. Since the start of the season, Darwitz, along with Wendell, has been named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week once and the WCHA Rookie of the Week four times, the most of any player in Minnesota women’s hockey history.

Wendell is second on the team in scoring behind Darwitz, tallying 48 points in 21 games played. Wendell ranks third in WCHA scoring and sixth in the nation, averaging 2.29 points per game.

Wendell had a 19-game scoring streak before it was broken last weekend against Bemidji State. In the same game that Darwitz scored five points, Wendell set up Darwitz for two of her three goals and also had five points. Wendell has had two games in which her plus/minus rating has been +6.

Wendell has had one game with five points, two games with four points and five games with three points. Like Darwitz, Wendell was named the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week once this season following her performance against St. Lawrence. She also won the WCHA Rookie of the Week award four times this season. She tied Darwitz for the most wins for the award in a season. Wendell leads the team in plus/minus rating (+35) and unassisted goals (four), and is tied for first in game-winning (five) and short-handed goals (two).

The 12-member committee will decide the three finalists on March 10. This year the announcement and award dinner, set for March 22 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center, will again be held in conjunction with the 2003 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four, to take place on March 21 and 23.

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