Three Badger Patty Kazmaier Nominees

Wisconsin junior center Brianna Decker is one of the favorites for the 2012 Patty Kazmaier. Photo: Nicole Haase.

Knight, Rigsby, and Decker Nominated For 2012 Award

Since Mark Johnson took over the Wisconsin Women's hockey program, the Badgers have a stranglehold on the college hockey landscape. Not counting the 09-10 season when Johnson and star players Hilary Knight and Meghan Duggan were gone for the Olympics, the Badgers have played for the last five national championships, winning four titles.

Wisconsin has also done well for themselves in the individual award circuit. The Badgers have accounted for 3 of the past 6 Patty Kazmaier awards, which is handed out annually to the top women's college hockey player.

Sarah Bauer was the programs first winner in 2006. Jessie Vetter kept the tradition alive in 2009, and Duggan brought home the programs third Patty Kaz last season.

Wisconsin is expected to be well represented once again this season for the award. It was announced Monday that senior forward Hilary Knight, junior forward Brianna Decker, and sophomore goaltender Alex Rigsby are among 30 nominees for the 2012 award.

Knight, who was a 2010 Olympic silver medalist with Team USA is the University of Wisconsin's career leading scorer. A winger for her entire career, Knight moved to center this season to give the Badgers a 1-2 punch up the middle that is virtually unstoppable.

With the move, Knight unselfishly sacrificed some of her numbers by playing on a lower line. That hasn't stopped the senior captain from scoring altogether though. Knight is 5th in the country in goals and 10th in points while leading the #1 ranked Badgers to a WCHA conference title.

Decker, a junior center from Dousman, Wisc. is on an incredible scoring pace this season. Decker currently leads the Badgers in scoring and is second in the country with 72 points in 34 games. Decker was a first team All-WCHA performer last season and will undoubtedly be one again this year.

Rigsby, a sophomore goaltender from Delafield, Wisc. is arguably the best goaltender in the world right now. Rigbsy currently leads all NCAA goaltenders in save percentage with a ridiculous .950%. Rigsby is also second in the country in goals against average at 1.42.

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. Other selection criteria include outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Consideration is also given to academic achievement and civic involvement.

The 2012 Patty Kazmaier award presented by Easton Foundations will be awarded at a ceremony in Duluth, Minnesota on Saturday, March 17 at the Greysolon Ballroom during the NCAA Women's Frozen Four.

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For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Chuck on Twitter (@UWChuckSchwartz)

Chuck can also be reached via e-mail at chuckschwartz@live.com

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