Buckeyes' Jaques ends defensemen drought, wins 2023 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award
Ohio State fifth-year senior defenseman Sophie Jaques became the first Buckeye and second defenseman to ever win the Patty Kazmaier Award in its 26 years.
DULUTH — The highest individual honor in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey is named after Patty Kazmaier, who was a standout defenseman at Princeton from 1981-86. She died of a rare blood disease in 1990 at the age of 28.
Despite Kazmaier being a blue liner who led the Tigers to three-straight Ivy League titles, Harvard’s Angela Ruggiero in 2004 was the only defenseman to ever win the award since its inception in 1998.
That finally changed Saturday when Ohio State fifth-year defenseman Sophie Jaques was announced as the 2023 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner, one season after she had been passed over as a top-three finalist by Minnesota forward Taylor Heise.
“I'm definitely so honored and humbled to be on this list, and to be one of only two defenseman is incredible,” Jaques said. “I’m so happy to get some recognition for great defensive play and I hope there's so many other defenseman to win in the future.”
The first Buckeye to ever win the award, Minnesota Duluth coach Maura Crowell called Jaques “a program-changing player” and “a special category of player” back on March 3 following the Bulldogs’ 2-1 loss to OSU in the WCHA Final Faceoff semifinals at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
Buckeyes coach Nadine Muzerall said Saturday it doesn’t matter how many kids enter the transfer portal, or how many kids grow up as the next generation of elite hockey players, another defenseman like Sophie Jaques is going to be “a very tough person to find.”
“There have been a lot of great forwards, but that seems to be ordinary,” said Muzerall, who put up over 200 points in her four seasons as a forward at Minnesota in the late 1990s and early 2000s. “You're going to have somebody that can score 60-65 points-plus. But to find a defenseman that scores as often she does, produces that many points, stays out of the box, is clutch on penalty kill and five-on-five, and the defensive side of things, too … how do you find a defenseman of that caliber?"
Jaques helped lead the Buckeyes to their first NCAA championship a year ago via a win over UMD at Penn State, and she has OSU back in the national championship game again at 3 p.m. Sunday against Wisconsin at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
A 22-year-old native of Toronto, Jaques has 24 goals and 24 assists going into Sunday’s game after posting 21 goals and 38 assists a year ago during the national championship run. She was a top-three point getter as a defenseman last season and finished ninth overall in goals this year.
The 2023 WCHA Player and Defender of the Year, Jacques is the Buckeyes’ all-team leader in career points by a defenseman with 156 in five seasons. She’s the WCHA’s all-time leader in goals by a blue liner with 61.
Defensively, the two-time first-team All-American has 55 blocks this season, with three coming Friday night in the Buckeyes’ dominating 3-0 victory over Northeastern in the Frozen Four semifinals in Duluth.
“Sometimes people just look at points — that's what’s on paper — but they don't look at the big picture of the entire person, of their body of work,” Muzerall said. “For the past two years, she's got over 100 points, but she also is up there in plus/minus and blocked shots. She just does all the little things right. And more importantly, she's a unbelievable human being.”
Jaques was the recipient of the 2022 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sport Scholar Award. She serves as vice president of SHEROs, an organization at OSU that “provides a safe space for minority female student-athletes to have open discussions and promote diversity in sport.”
She already has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and is working on her master’s in the field this season.
The other top-three finalists this year included Northeastern fifth-year senior forward Alina Müller and Colgate senior forward Danielle Serdachny.
Saturday’s award ceremony was held inside the ticket lobby — known as the Ice Cube — at Amsoil Arena. It was broadcast on NHL Network, opened to the public and drew a capacity crowd of fans inside and outside the lobby.
Jaques said having her teammates and the fans present made Saturday’s award extra special.
“I'm so grateful to have all the teammates here and everyone here, the parents as well,” said Jaques, who was part of last year’s virtual ceremony on NHL Network along with Hiese and UMD senior center Gabbie Hughes. “I couldn't have imagined it any other way and I'm just so happy that this is how it turned out.”