Räty named a finalist for player of the year award

The freshman goalie hopes to become the first European to claim the honor.

by John Hageman

Minnesota freshman goalie Noora Räty is among 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given annually to the top Division I womenâÄôs hockey player in the nation, USA Hockey announced Tuesday. Räty leads the nation in goals against average (1.06), save percentage (.958 ) and shutouts (7). The Finland native also set a school record for most assists by a goaltender in a season with three and is the only freshman nominee. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association goaltending champion recently returned from Vancouver, where she led Team Finland to the Olympic bronze medal in a 3-2 overtime victory against Sweden. After flying back Friday, she helped the Gophers move past Minnesota State-Mankato in the first round of the WCHA playoffs . This marks the third year in a row the Gophers have had a Kazmaier finalist. In 2005, Krissy Wendell became the first and only Minnesota player to ever win the award. Last year, WisconsinâÄôs Jessie Vetter became just the second goalie to win the award in its 12-year history. Räty would become the first European to bring home the hardware. Here is a list of the nine other candidates: Vicki Bendus (Mercyhurst forward, Jr.): One of three players representing No. 1 Mercyhurst, Bendus leads the nation in points with 60 and short-handed goals with five. Emmanuelle Blais (Minnesota-Duluth forward, Sr.): Currently sitting in second in the WCHA and seventh in the NCAA with 40 points. Blais has eight-game winning goals this year, one fewer than NCAA-leader MinnesotaâÄôs Emily West. Bailey Bram (Mercyhurst forward, So.): Bram is second in the nation in both power-play goals and game-winning goals with 12 and eight, respectively. She also posted an 11-game point streak. Felicia Nelson (St. Cloud State forward, Sr.): Leads the nation with 31 goals with 15 coming on power plays, also a NCAA best. Sarah Parsons (Dartmouth forward, Sr.): Leads Eastern College Athletic Conference with 40 points and tallied 13 multi-point games. Kelly Paton (New Hampshire forward, Sr.): Paton sits fifth in the nation in points per game with 1.65 and fourth in assists per game with 1.03. Jesse Scanzano (Mercyhurst forward, Jr.) Scanzano leads the nation with 1.93 points per game and 1.28 assists per game. She also had a point in 24 of 29 contests. Florence Schelling (Northeastern goalie, So.): The only other goalie in the top 10, Schelling is third in the NCAA with a .949 save percentage. She was also named Hockey East defensive player of the week seven times this season. Britni Smith (St. Lawrence defenseman, Sr.) Smith tallied 25 points this season âÄî third in the nation among defenseman âÄî and was named an ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team member. The field will be narrowed down to three March 9, with the winner being announced at a brunch March 20 at the McNamara Alumni Center, in conjunction with the NCAA Frozen Four held at Ridder Arena.