WCHA women’s conference announces individual award winners for 2020-21 college hockey season

Minnesota Duluth goalie Emma Soderberg was solid all season long for the Bulldogs (photo: Dave Harwig).

The women’s WCHA announced Thursday its individual award winners for the 2020-21 season.

WCHA Forward of the Year, Scoring Champion
Daryl Watts, Sr., Wisconsin
A top-10 finalist for the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, Watts has potted 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points. In all games this season she ranks second nationally in point scoring and is one of only 16 skaters to record a hat trick in 2020-21. The Toronto, Ont., native boasts the best points per game (1.94) and goals per game average (0.94) of any player who has played more than two games. She headlines a Badgers offense that ranks fourth in the nation and has tallied two crucial game-winning overtime goals for Wisconsin, including the Julianne Bye Cup clincher against Minnesota Duluth in the final game of the regular season. She saw herself named the WCHA Forward of the Week three times this season as well as the WCHA Forward of the Month in January.

WCHA Defenseman of the Year
Ashton Bell, Sr., Minnesota Duluth
Bell has tallied 12 points on three goals and nine assists in her senior campaign, ranking her second in the league among defensemen and 11th in the nation. The senior blueliner earned WCHA Defenseman of the Week honors twice this season and also picked up a WCHA Defenseman of the Month nod in November. The Deloraine, Man., native has racked up the best plus/minus rating of any league blueliner, entered the postseason with a +19 rating.

WCHA Goaltender of the Year, Goaltending Champion
Emma Söderberg, Jr., Minnesota Duluth
Söderberg earns Goaltender of the Year honors after leading the WCHA with a .951 save percentage, a 1.34 goals against average and the highest percentage of time played (97.3 percent]. The junior netminder tied for the league lead in shutouts with five, which is also tied for the second most whitewashes in the nation this season. She played in all 16 games for Minnesota Duluth and registered 404 saves on 425 shots. Söderberg has earned WCHA Goaltender of the Week accolades on three separate occasions this season and has received WCHA Goaltender of the Month honors for three consecutive months from December to February.

WCHA Rookie of the Year
Jamie Nelson, Fr., F, Minnesota State
Nelson has stood out as a leader among Minnesota State’s forwards in her freshman campaign. contributing a WCHA newcomer-best eight goals and adding seven assists for 15 points, ranking her second in point scoring among league freshmen. The freshman forward boasts the most shots on goal of any league rookie at 57 and has registered the most power-play points at three (1g-2a). She has registered 26 blocked shots, outranking all other WCHA freshmen, defensemen included, and was recognized as the WCHA Rookie of the Month for December.

WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year
Mak Langei, Sr., D, Bemidji State
A 2020-21 captain for the Beavers, Langei is a senior biology and pre-dentistry double major with a double minor in business administration and chemist who maintains a 3.96 cumulative GPA and is on track to graduate this spring. Langei is a two-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete, a two-time WCHA All-Academic Team honoree and a three-time AHCA All-American Scholar who has also been named to the Dean’s List at Bemidji State each semester. In addition to her scholastic achievements, the senior defenseman provides service to local youth hockey clinics and camps and volunteers for the Bemidji Community 5K Suicide Prevention Walk/Run for Evergreen Youth services and plans to pursue dentistry school after graduation. On the ice, Langei has had a notable senior campaign, closing out the regular season with the second-most blocked shots in the NCAA at 73. She ends her career as a Beaver with 11 goals and 36 assists for a total of 47 points, the third-most among active skaters for Bemidji State and the most among active blueliners.

WCHA Coach of the Year
Mark Johnson, Wisconsin
In his 18th season behind the Bench for the Badgers, Johnson has led Wisconsin to a 12-3-1 record, a top-two ranking every week of the regular-season and the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s Final Faceoff. His Wisconsin team has faced top-7 opponents 10 different times this season, and emerged victories in six of those contests. He leads a roster that features two Top-10 Patty Kazmaier finalists, seven All-WCHA honorees and the WCHA’s Forward of the Year. In almost two decade in Madison, Johnson has a career record of 534-95-47 (.824). He is the only head coach in women’s collegiate hockey to have surpassed 500 career wins, and is the winningest active women’s hockey coach in the NCAA. This year’s honor marks Johnson’s ninth WCHA Coach of the Year award.