Laguna Hills’ Pankowski up for top award

Laguna Hills’ Annie Pankowski is one of 10 finalists for the 2017 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, an honor bestowed annually to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey.

Pankowski, a Santa Margarita High graduate, is a junior forward for Wisconsin, and currently leads the No. 1-ranked Badgers in points with 42. Her 1.45 points-per-game average ranks third in the WCHA and eighth nationally.

Despite missing four games while helping the U.S. win the Four Nations Cup in November, Pankowski’s 20 goals lead the WCHA and rank sixth in the country. Pankowski is also tied for the national lead in hat tricks, with two.

During UW’s recent unbeaten stretch of 16 games, the longest active streak in the NCAA, Pankowski has contributed 14 goals and 16 assists.

She recently cracked the school’s top-10 points list with 143, and her 1.32 points-per-game average during her three-year career ranks seventh in UW history.

A zoology major, Pankowski was named a WCHA Scholar Athlete for a second straight year and received the NCAA Elite 90 Award for having the highest grade-point average among participants at the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four.

Pankowski aims to become Wisconsin’s fifth recipient of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, joining Sara Bauer (2006), Jessie Vetter (2009), Meghan Duggan (2011) and Brianna Decker (2012).

The Badgers have had at least one Kazmaier top-10 finalist in five of the past seven seasons.

The announcement marks the second-consecutive year Pankowski have been named to the top-10 list for the prestigious honor.

The selection process commenced earlier this month when NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey coaches were asked to nominate players for the award. Players who were nominated by multiple coaches were then placed on an official ballot, which was sent back to the coaches to vote for the top-10 finalists. The independent accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, tabulated the ballots.

The three finalists, including the recipient…

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