Minnesota’s Baldwin tabbed WCHA women’s Player of the Year

Sydney Baldwin (Minnesota - 9). ((c) Shelley M. Szwast 2014)
Sydney Baldwin has been a standout on both sides of the puck this season for Minnesota (photo: Shelley M. Szwast).

The WCHA women’s league announced Tuesday that Minnesota senior defenseman Sydney Baldwin is the 2017-18 WCHA Player of the Year.

Baldwin, who last week was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, was chosen for the top overall honor by league head coaches and assistant coaches from among the final four candidates: Offensive Player of the Year Abby Roque of Wisconsin, Goaltender of the Year Kristen Campbell of Wisconsin and Rookie of the Year Emma Maltais of Ohio State.

“On behalf of the WCHA, we stand and applaud Sydney Baldwin as our 2017-18 Player of the Year,” said WCHA commissioner Katie Million in a statement. “Each of the four candidates had remarkable seasons, but Sydney’s all-around contributions were truly special. To be among the nation’s leading scorers on defense, while also topping the country in blocked shots, being a part of both special teams units and serving as a co-captain for an NCAA tournament team, is worthy of every accolade in the book. Congratulations, Sydney.”

Baldwin, a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-10 finalist, was tied for third in the WCHA scoring race and paced league blueliners with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in conference games, along with a league-best 76 blocked shots. The native of Minnetonka, Minn., tallied a point in 14 of her 24 WCHA games, while factoring in four game-winning goals (two goals, two assists). The first-team All-WCHA performer also helped the Gophers to the league’s second-best power play in WCHA games.

“The way Sydney has elevated her performance on and off the ice this season is incredible,” added Minnesota coach Brad Frost. “Sydney has been our most valuable player at both ends of the ice over the past few months – contributing offensively as well as defensively. She leads the league in blocked shots, shuts down opponents on the rush, and yet still finds time to also lead our team offensively gaining the most points of any defenseman. She is an incredible skater in all three zones with strong puck sills and an incredible shot, and she finds ways to shut down our opponents’ best players while at the same time being one of our strongest offensive threats.

“Most importantly, Sydney has become a great leader and demonstrates the attributes of a true student-athlete.”

Baldwin’s 32 points overall (12 goals, 20 assists) are tied for second among NCAA Division I blueliners, tops among her WCHA position peers and tied for fifth in the league overall. She has played in all 37 of Minnesota’s games, has tallied a point in 23 contests, has compiled an NCAA-best 99 blocked shots and owns a plus-26 rating.

She is also co-captain of a Gophers team that won the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff to advance to the NCAA tournament.