Kendall Coyne: once-in-a-generation player wins the Patty Kazmaier Award

NEW CASTLE, N.H. — Northeastern forward Kendall Coyne was named the winner of the 2016 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which is presented annually to the top player in women’s NCAA Division I hockey. She is the second winner from Northeastern. Brooke Whitney won the award in 2002.

It’s the crowning achievement of an incredible career for Coyne that spanned five years and four seasons.

She won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and took a year off from school to train with the team. Her accolades include becoming Northeastern’s all-time career leader in points (248) and goals (140), as well as setting new Hockey East records for career points (167), career goals (91), single-season points (55), single-season goals (30), points per game (2.39), and goals per game (1.30).

Coyne has helped usher in a new era at Northeastern hockey. As captain, she led the team to its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last week.

“It’s a special moment for Kendall and her family, but also for Northeastern women’s hockey,” said Huskies coach Dave Flint. “She’s helped us achieve some milestones during her time and she’s put us back in the national spotlight. I’m grateful to Kendall for the five years she spent with us. She could have chosen any school in the country and she chose Northeastern and to come play for me. What she’s done for Northeastern on and off the ice, I’ll be forever grateful for. She’s created a culture that’s going to last a long time at Northeastern.”

Coyne’s sister Bailey will join the Huskies for the 2016-17 season, and Kendall admitted that makes leaving the program she helped elevate a bit easier.

“Just to see the program’s growth in the past four, five years, has been tremendous; it gives me a little bit of ease leaving here,” said Kendall.

Earning a berth to the NCAA tournament was the goal heading into the season, Coyne said, and it was the chemistry this year’s team had that helped them achieve that goal.

“We came together from day one; our goal was to make the NCAAs,” Coyne said. “Every single player knew that was the goal and everyone gave everything they had to get to that point. It embodies what this team was this year. We really came together. It was a special year. For it to be my last, it was a good way to go out.”

Coyne may have been the scoring leader and driving offensive force on the Huskies, but Flint said that this season she became a force in the locker room, as well.

Though she’s always been a leader on the ice with her speed and skill, he said this past season Coyne found her voice and stepped into a vocal leadership role for the Huskies. Where she used to just lead by example, now Coyne was the one in the locker room and at practice pushing and encouraging her teammates.

“I’m a firm believer that’s a reason we were so successful this year, because she found that voice and wasn’t afraid to hold her teammates accountable,” said Flint. “She brings the level up every day and she leads by example. The few times she would be gone for USA Hockey stuff, you could kind of see the level in practice drop a little bit. They know in practice when she’s there, she’s going to push them. She wants to make them better and she’s going to hold them accountable. She was always that quiet leader, but she found her voice in the locker room. She really stepped up and spoke up when she needed to. Every one of those players respected her and listened to what she said.”

Up next, Coyne leaves on Sunday to join Team USA at a pre-Women’s World Championships camp in Seattle. Team USA opens tournament play with a game against Canada on Monday, March 28.

“It makes this transition a lot easier, knowing that I get to enter in a whole new group of players that I look up to and admire and work for a world championship,” said Coyne.

Despite the presence of NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan at the ceremony Saturday, Coyne was cagey about what else comes next for her. She said she’s focusing on the world championships and graduation.