BIRCHARD, LONG, PATON NOMINATED FOR 2010 PATTY KAZMAIER MEMORIAL AWARD

COURTNEY BIRCHARD
MICAELA LONG
KELLY PATON

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario), Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) and Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) of the fourth-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team have been nominated for the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. The announcement was made Wednesday by USA Hockey, the governing body of the award.

The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award has been presented annually since 1998, when UNH’s Brandy Fisher won the inaugural award, to the most outstanding women’s ice hockey player in the nation. A total of 45 players have been nominated this year by the NCAA Division I head coaches.

Birchard, a junior defenseman, is ranked fifth in the nation in defenseman scoring (0.81 points per game) as well as eighth overall in game-winning goals (four) and 11th in power-play goals (six). In 10 games vs. nationally-ranked teams, she has 12 points (5g, 7a). In Hockey East league action, Birchard is the leader in power-play goals (four), second in both defenseman scoring (13) and game-winning goals (three) as well as fourth in power-play points (seven). Birchard leads the team in shots and game-winning goals; she is also second in power-play goals, third in assists (13), fourth in points (22) and fifth in goals (nine) despite missing two games.

Birchard has recorded a point in 15 of 27 games this season with six multiple-point performances, including a career high of three assists that lifted UNH to a 5-3 come-from-behind victory against nationally-ranked Northeastern University at Fenway Park on Jan. 8.

Birchard, a pedagogy major, was named to the 2009 Hockey East All-Academic Team and has been named to UNH’s Dean’s List two semesters. Her 2010 season accolades include Hockey East’s Pure Hockey Player of the Week.

Long, a senior forward, ranks second in the nation in assists per game (1.21) and fifth in points per game (1.59). In 10 games vs. nationally-ranked teams, she has 14 points (1g, 13a). In Hockey East league action, Long is the leader in points (30), assists (24) and power-play points (12); she is also fifth in power-play goals (three). Long has a team-high 35 assists and is tied for the lead in both points (46) and plus/minus (+18); furthermore, she is third in both goals (11) and shots as well as tied for third in power-play goals (five).

Long has recorded a point in 26 of 29 games this season with 12 multiple-point efforts, including nine multiple-assist performances. She compiled a 17-game point-scoring streak spanning Oct. 24 to Jan. 30 that included a stretch of four straight multiple-assist games and a separate eight-assist streak. Long’s season highlights include a career-high four assists Feb. 13 against the University of Vermont; one game earlier, she tallied three assists at nationally-ranked University of Connecticut.

Long is a psychology major who was named to the 2009 Hockey East All-Academic Team and has been named to the Dean’s List twice. Her 2010 honors include Hockey East’s Pure Hockey Player of the Week.

Paton, a senior forward and captain of the Wildcats, is ranked fifth in the nation in points per game (1.59), fourth in assists per game (1.00) and 18th in goals per game. In 10 games vs. nationally-ranked teams, Paton has tallied 14 points (6g, 8a). In Hockey East league play, she is ranked second in points (27), assists (17) and power-play points (11) as well as third in goals (10). Paton leads the team in goals (17) and is tied for the lead in both points (46) and plus/minus (+18). Furthermore, she ranks second in assists (29), game-winning goals and shots, and she is tied for third in power-play goals (five) and is fourth in shooting percentage.

Paton has recorded a point in 25 of 29 games this season with 11 multiple-point efforts. She opened the year with a 12-game point-scoring streak and has a point in each of the last seven games.

Paton, an exercise science major, is a 2009 Hockey East All-Academic Team selection who has made Dean’s List three semesters. Her 2010 accolades include back-to-back Hockey East Player of the Month awards (Oct. and Nov.) and three-time Hockey East Pure Hockey Player of the Week.

The Division I head coaches will now vote for the Top 10 Candidates, which will be announced March 2. A 13-member committee will then select the Top 3, which will be unveiled March 9. The 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award will be presented March 20 at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center in conjunction with the Frozen Four.

Tickets to the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award ceremony may be purchased by calling 719-538-1184, or by e-mailing or faxing a completed ticket form, which can be found at PattyKaz.com. Individual seats are $75, while tables of 10 are available for $700.

Including Fisher, the 1998 Award winner, UNH has had a total of 11 Top 10 Candidates. Nicki Luongo (1999), Carisa Zaban (‘99 and 2000), Michelle Thornton (‘01), Kira Misikowetz (‘02), Nicole Hekle (‘06), Martine Garland (‘07 and ’08), Sam Faber (‘08) and Jenn Wakefield (‘09) have been UNH’s other honorees. Luongo and Zaban (’00) were further honored as Top 3 finalists.

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