Alina Mueller finished one of the most storied careers in Hockey East history Saturday. A day after Northeastern was shut out by defending national champion Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament semifinals, 3-0, the Huskies’ captain waited to see if she would be named the winner of the 2023 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.
Despite the three-time Swiss Olympian’s 27 goals and 33 assists this season, and 254 points for the forward’s career, it was not meant to be. Mueller was bested by Buckeyes defender Sophie Jaques for this year’s award as the top player in Division 1 women’s hockey. Jaques is only the second blue-liner to win the award, joining Boston resident, Harvard alumnus, and four-time US Olympian Angela Ruggiero (2004).
Kazmaier Award voters had a tough choice to make between graduate students Mueller and Jaques, and Colgate senior forward Danielle Serdachny, with any of the three deserving of the honor. The first-ever Ohio State player to win the honor, Jaques was the nation’s best offensive defender this season, with 24 goals and 24 assists. Over her career, the Ontario native netted 26 power-play goals, and leads her conference, the WCHA, in career goals by a defender with 61 entering Sunday’s national championship game against Wisconsin.
Ruggiero, who runs the Cambridge-based Sports Innovation Lab, was happy to see another defender join her on the list of winners.
“I’m so thrilled for Sophie bringing the Patty Kaz back to the blue line,” said Ruggiero Saturday. “She has been phenomenal all season on both ends of the ice.”
The sting of Mueller’s loss can be soothed a bit by the massive acclaim she was able to achieve while on Huntington Avenue. A three-time Hockey East Player of the Year, she was at least a top-10 finalist for the Kazmaier Award in each of her seasons, making her the only player in history to earn the honor five times. This season marked her second top-three finish.
Mueller had nine game-winning goals this season, tops in the nation, and assisted on 14 others, meaning she had a hand in 23 of the Huskies’ 34 game-winners.
While she leaves college hockey with a full trophy case, the one Mueller wanted most proved elusive. It would have been one to share with her teammates: a national championship trophy.
“I just try to play my best hockey and help the team win,” said Mueller after being named the Hockey East Tournament MVP earlier this month. “If people think I deserve an award, I will take it, but I just want to win with the team.”
Kat Cornetta can be reached at email@example.com.