Wisconsin standout Abby Roque was already among elite company in American women’s hockey. Now she’s at the top.
Roque was named the 2020 Bob Allen Women’s Hockey Player of the Year, an award that salutes the accomplishments of an outstanding American-born women’s hockey player.
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Roque said. “It was super surprising, but also super exciting. It’s really an honor being named and put in a category with a lot of amazing U.S. women’s hockey players who have won it before me.”
The award is named in honor of the late Bob Allen, who was an ardent support of women’s hockey throughout his career. Previous winners include Maddie Rooney, Brianna Decker, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel, among others.
Kendall Coyne Schofield won the award in 2019.
“I’m super excited for Abby,” Coyne Schofield said. “It’s a tremendous honor and she absolutely deserves to be the Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year. When you look at what she did at the University of Wisconsin this year and what she did in her first season with the Women’s National Team, she had a phenomenal year.”
“We’re excited for her and I think she was certainly worthy of the award,” Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. “You look at the people who have won this award in years past, they’re all elite players, and they all did wonderful things for their individual college programs and certainly in international play. For Abby to be part of that company, it’s special for her.”
In February, Roque earned her first selection to the national team for the IIHF Women’s World Championship. That tournament was set to take place in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, from March 31 to April 10, but the event was canceled because of the current global pandemic.
“She was going to be on the world championship team and I know she was excited to be part of that,” Johnson said. “Her missing out on the world championships this past spring is probably going to ignite her and fuel her to continue to work hard, improve her game and make sure she gets another opportunity when it is presented.”
Roque took full advantage of her opportunity when she was selected to playin the 2019-20 Rivalry Series against Canada.
She scored a goal in both Rivalry Series games she played in, helping the U.S. to a 4-1 victory in Hartford, Connecticut, and a 2-1 win in New Brunswick, Canada. Roque helped the U.S. to 3-1 lead in the opening game, while in the first four minutes of the second game, her tally set the tone for a one-goal victory.
“She was fantastic in both of the Rivalry Series games,” Coyne Schofield said. “She put on the USA jersey for the first time with the senior national team, and seeing her score her first Women’s National Team goal, and then her second shortly thereafter, she fit right in. I think her future with the national team is so bright and I hope this continues to motivate her.”
Roque is committed to being a regular fixture on the national team.
“[The current players] have been around, playing at such an elite level for so long and doing it so consistently,” Roque said. “To be at their level, I would have to be on the USA roster for that long and not just making teams, but performing like they do day in and day out.”
Coyne Schofield expects the 22-year-old Roque to be around for a long time.
“You really look for those younger players to bring the energy, and [Roque] has the ability to flip that switch,” Coyne Schofield said. “She’ll do anything it takes to win, whether it’s sacrificing her body, playing the puck behind the net or finishing a backcheck. She’s a competitor and a great team player, but off the ice, she’s someone you constantly want around because she’s keeping the room light.”
Roque finished seventh in the nation in scoring, while also establishing a career-best 26 goals and 58 points at Wisconsin. Her 26 goals ranked fourth in the NCAA, while she had 32 assists, good for seventh in the nation. Roque also had the second-best faceoff percentage in the country and led the nation in faceoff wins.
“I had been known as being more of a solid playmaker and a strong defensive center needed against other top lines across the NCAA,” Roque said. “I worked on my scoring touch, and I started scoring more as the year went on. When that happened, I think it all started to click because my all-around game was still there and I started scoring more.”
Roque leaves Wisconsin ranked ninth in career points with 170, eighth in game-winning goals (15) and seventh in assists (114), plus-minus (plus-136) and power-play goals with 21.
Roque was named USCHO Division I Women’s Player of the Year, the WCHA Player of the Year and a First-Team All-American. She was also named a top-three finalist for the prestigious 2020 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation.
“At the end of the year, I did not expect these awards,” Roque said. “It was a pleasure to be considered and to win some. People said it was because of my all-around game and that’s really important to me because that’s what I try to focus on.”
Johnson appreciated Roque’s willingness to consistently compete at a high level throughout her four years at Wisconsin.
“Abby’s ceiling, she hasn’t reached it yet,” Johnson said. “She wants to become better, she wants to improve. I’m sure she’s going to continue to work and as she gets more opportunities, her game will continue to get better. I’m excited for her, her family and certainly our program. It’s a big honor and I’m happy for her.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.