An award of The USA Hockey Foundation, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is presented annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey.
Erin Ambrose has done just about everything at Clarkson University in her three seasons.
As a sophomore last year, she helped the Golden Knights win an NCAA hockey championship, when she was a first-team All-America defenseman and top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award. Plus, she was the No. 8 scorer in the nation and the highest-scoring defenseman.
The previous season, as a freshman, she was the Eastern College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year.
So when coach Matt Desrosiers was asked to describe the 5-foot-5 junior from Keswick, Ontario, he had to cover a lot of bases.
“Erin is an all-around, well-rounded player for us,” he said. “She’s good in all facets of the game. She can have the offense when you need it, but she’s also great defensively. She blocks a lot of shots for us, and she makes smart decisions with and without the puck.
“We look to her to kind of control things from the back end for us.”
In other words, what Ambrose does best might be that she’s good at everything.
“You could say that,” Desrosiers said, laughing. “She doesn’t have a lot of holes in her game, to be honest. She does everything really well.”
This season, Ambrose again is contributing all over the ice. She has 20 points (including six goals) in 27 games, has blocked 49 shots, is plus-7 and has three goals that have either won or tied games for the Golden Knights, who are 19-8-3.
This has been a season of transition for Clarkson, with the loss of seven seniors — including Patty Kazmaier Award winner Jamie Lee Rattray — and the addition of a talented freshman class.
Ambrose said she’s trying to help the transition as much as possible by helping those freshmen adapt, taking on more of a leadership role (she’s one of the captains this season) and working to become a better defenseman.
She’s also spent hours in video study and with coaches, trying to refine everything about her play. Desrosiers said she’s constantly analyzing herself on video: her stick position, footwork and body position.
And while she enjoys scoring goals and attacking the net as much as the next player, sometimes it’s just as satisfying to do something that goes largely unnoticed but helps lead to a victory.
“That’s the best part, when you make a big block and your team gets up and is cheering for you, that’s what means the most and that’s why you do it,” she said. “I mean, when you come back after you break up a 2-on-1 and you get a pat from your teammates, those are the things that matter. We really pride ourselves on our defensive game, and when our forwards make those big blocks, we appreciate that as defensemen. It makes our job a lot easier. … Maybe it’s not the prettiest thing to the fans in the stands, but it’s what matters to us as a team, for sure.”
Last season’s run to the NCAA championship, with a victory over the University of Minnesota in the final, was sweet for a Clarkson program that only has been a Division I program since the 2003-04 season. Ambrose was a huge part of the success on a team that went 31-5-5.
Unfortunately, she was injured late in the season and missed playing in the NCAA tournament.
Still, she enjoyed the wild ride.
“It was an incredible experience,” she said. “I think especially going into that Final Four weekend it was difficult for me in the sense that I wasn’t playing. But to see the girls and to see us accomplish something like that, it’s something that no doubt I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
“Coming back, and the banner raising this year, it’s so surreal in some ways. We’re definitely working to do that same thing again this year.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
McNamara Alumni Center- University of Minnesota
10:30 a.m. – noon