Aerin Frankel is named national player of the year with Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award in NCAA women’s ice hockey

Aerin Frankel became the third Northeastern star to win the highest honor in women’s college hockey. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Northeastern senior goaltender Aerin Frankel was honored Saturday with the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top player in NCAA Division 1 women’s ice hockey. 

Frankel joins Kendall Coyne-Schofield, the 2016 winner, and Brooke Whitney, who won in 2002, as Northeastern’s recipients of the highest individual honor in the sport. Frankel became the fourth goaltender to win the award.

“There have been so many amazing players that have come before me, and to have my name on a list alongside them is very humbling and makes me very proud,” said Frankel. “To represent our university and to get another goalie’s name on that list is pretty cool, too. All the recipients of this award are part of a very special group, and I’m really excited to join them.”

Frankel set an NCAA record with her save percentage of .966 this season, and she led the country in wins (20), goals against average (0.81), winning percentage (.891), and shutouts (9), earning her the national Goalie of the Year award by unanimous vote. She guided Northeastern (22-2-1) to its first No. 1 ranking, its fourth successive Hockey East championship, and its first Frozen Four before losing in overtime of the NCAA final, 2-1, to defending champion Wisconsin.

“It’s been an amazing year, and this was a perfect way to end this year,” said Huskies coach Dave Flint. “She’s been the rock of our team for the entire season and her four years at Northeastern, and we wouldn’t be where we are right now without her.”

Frankel is Northeastern’s career leader in goals against average, save percentage, shutouts, wins, and games and minutes played.

Frankel is undersized at 5 feet 5 inches, which helps explain why she was not highly recruited as a high school senior at Shattuck-Saint Mary’s of Minneapolis. She has transformed her size into a strength by routinely stepping out from the net to cut off angles and reduce scoring opportunities—which means that she must react that much more quickly to the puck.

“She’s proven a lot of people wrong,” Flint said earlier this season. “I think a lot of schools that passed on her are probably really regretting that now.”

Two of Frankel’s teammates had joined her among the 10 finalists for the Kazmaier award—junior forward Alina Mueller, who was the Hockey East co-player of the year alongside Frankel, and senior defenseman Skylar Fontaine, who scored the winning overtime goal in the NCAA semifinal. 

“My individual accolades wouldn’t have been possible without how great our team was this year and how well we handled the adversity that was thrown our way,” Frankel said of the Huskies’ perseverance in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I can’t say enough great things about Northeastern and my teammates and my coaches.”

Frankel, a native of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. who is majoring in criminal justice and psychology, has been competing in a five-day tryout camp in Blaine, Minn., for the U.S. Women’s National Team that will compete in the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship. She knows that she’ll be playing next season—either for the U.S. team or with Northeastern via a temporary NCAA rule providing an additional year of eligibility to all players because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When she returns to Northeastern next season, whether as a player or as a deeply-invested fan, she can expect to look up and see a banner honoring her as national player of the year—similar to the banner that currently hangs at Matthews Arena for Coyne-Schofield, who, in a moment that brought Flint to tears, made the official announcement Saturday of Frankel’s award.

“Northeastern has been such a great home for me the last four years, and Matthews Arena is such a special place to me,” Frankel said. “So that would obviously just be so overwhelming for my family and I to go in that rink that we all love so much, and that I’ve made so many memories in, to see that up there.”

The award is named for Patty Kazmaier, a three- time Ivy League champion and all-league defenseman at Princeton University who died in 1990 at age 28 following a long struggle with a rare blood disease.

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