Aerin Frankel wins 24th Patty Kazmaier Award, highest individual honor in women’s college hockey

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Ethan Wayne

Husky senior netminder Aerin Frankel won the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Award, taking home top honors in women’s college hockey.

George Barker, news staff

Games might’ve ended for the Northeastern women’s hockey team, but history continues to be made. Senior goaltender Aerin Frankel has been awarded the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, the most prestigious individual award in women’s college hockey, which is given annually to the league’s top player. Frankel is just the fourth goaltender and the third Northeastern Husky to earn the award in its 24 years.

“I’m proud of our group, and I think my individual accolades wouldn’t have been possible without how great our team was this year and how well we handled the adversity that was thrown our way … I can’t say enough great things about Northeastern and my teammates and my coaches,” Frankel said; Frankel’s appreciation of her teammates is a theme anytime she answers a question on an individual award. 

“There’s been so many amazing players that have come before me, and to have my name on a list alongside them is very humbling and makes me very proud to represent our university … It’s an honor and a very special award, and I think all the recipients of this award are part of a very special group,” she added.

Frankel’s season between the pipes was simply spectacular, as the New York native’s .966 save percentage bested the previous NCAA single-season record for save percentage, set by Wisconsin goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens .963 percentage in 2017. Frankel’s similarly impressive 0.81 goals allowed per game fall just behind Desbiens’ 0.71 goals allowed average, or GAA, from 2017. Desbiens was the last goaltender to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award in 2017, with the other two netminders to bring it home doing so in 2009 and 2000. 

“She’s proven [that] she’s the best goalie in the NCAA, [and] I’d say the best player in the NCAA and a huge, huge reason for our success,” said Northeastern head coach Dave Flint after the team’s 2-1 overtime loss in the national championship in which Frankel stopped a season-high 35 pucks. “I’m glad the committee selected her, because they really got it right on this one,” he added the night of her award ceremony.

Frankel finished the season with a 20-2-1 record and nine shutouts to go along with her lofty save percentage and GAA numbers. All told, she led the NCAA in GAA, save percentage, wins, winning percentage and shutouts, earning her unanimous national Goaltender of the Year honors and a spot on the All-American First Team to go along with Hockey East First-Team All Star, Hockey East Goaltender of the Year and Hockey East Co-Player of the Year honors.

Over the course of her career at NU, Frankel claimed numerous Northeastern records, including most career shutouts, most games and minutes played, most wins, highest career save percentage and lowest GAA.

“She’s been the rock of our team for the entire season and her four years at Northeastern, and we wouldn’t be where we are right now without her in goal. I look at all the records that she broke this year and I wonder … how many more records she would have broken if we played a full slate of games,” Flint said, pointing to this year’s abbreviated season. “She would have broken some more records and maybe put those records out of reach. Some of the records she set, I don’t know anybody will ever touch those.”

Flint has described Frankel as more competitive than any other goalie he’s ever seen, with her expressing frustration for giving up even a single goal in each of the two games that followed the end of her five-game shutout streak this season.

Most goalies would be pretty excited if they only gave up two goals in six games. That’s just the way she is, and I think it’s the best attribute a goalie can have,” he said. 

Frankel, who allowed just 19 goals in 23 starts this year, agrees with the characterization.

“It’s always been the way that I am. I just hate being scored on; I think my teammates would definitely say that about me. Whether it’s practice or in games, I just hate to give up goals, and I think that that’s something that makes me better,” Frankel said. “Ultimately, just hating that feeling of getting scored on is what drives me to be better each and every day.”

Northeastern’s last Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award recipient, Kendall Coyne, has a banner up in Matthews Arena for her award, and the prospect of an Aerin Frankel banner hanging in the rafters next season brought a smile to both Flint and Frankel’s faces. 

“[The idea of a Frankel banner] is incredible. Obviously if I’m not back at Northeastern next year or I am, I know that I’ll be returning to see a banner, if there is one, with my name up on it,” Frankel said. “Northeastern has been such a great home for me the last four years, and Matthews Arena is such a special place to me, so that would obviously just be so incredible for me and overwhelming for my family and I to go in that rink that we all love so much and I’ve made so many memories in [and] see that up there.”