SAINT PAUL -- The American Hockey Coaches' Association (AHCA) announced its annual women's hockey awards at the NCAA Division III Frozen Four players' banquet in St. Paul, Minn. on Thursday night and several individuals from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) were recognized with high honors.
Hamline junior forward Bre Simon was selected as the 2019 recipient of the Laura Hurd Award, presented annually to the best player in NCAA Division III women's hockey, while teammate Madison Kolbow received the NCAA Elite 90 Award for women's hockey. St. Thomas head coach Tom Palkowski was chosen by his peers as the 2019 CCM/AHCA Women's Division III Coach of the Year, becoming the first MIAC coach ever to receive the award. In addition to those honors, five MIAC players were named to the 2018-19 CCM/AHCA Women's Division III All-America Teams, including Simon and St. Thomas goalie Kenzie Torpy on the First Team, along with St. Thomas defender Demi Cooper, Augsburg defender Nikki Nightengale, and Hamline forward Leah Schwartzman on the Second Team.
Palkowski guided the Tommies to MIAC regular season and playoff titles with a 25-1-2 record this season. The team's 25 wins represent a new program record for the Tommies, who enter the Frozen Four ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time ever. In his 12th season at the helm, Palkowski has led St. Thomas to a 33-1-7 record in its last 41 games with 13 shutouts during the 2018-19 season. Palkowski was assisted this season by Kristi King, Marty Sertich, and Drew Fielding. This is the first time ever a MIAC coach has received AHCA Coach of the Year honors. Hamline's Natalie Darwitz was selected the USCHO.com Coach of the Year last season.
Kolbow (So. | Forest Lake, Minn.) was named the recipient of the NCAA's Elite 90 award for women's hockey. The first Piper ever to be recognized for the prestigious academic honor, Kolbow owns a 3.95 cumulative grade-point average while majoring in biochemistry at Hamline. In addition to her excellence in the classroom, Kolbow has also performed well on the ice for the nationally-ranked Pipers, scoring 10 goals and assisting on seven others in 28 contests this season. The Elite 90 Award was founded by the NCAA to recognize the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring an individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among her peers. Kolbow, who was also the MIAC Elite 22 recipient for women's hockey, has the highest cumulative GPA of the four teams playing for the D-III championship this weekend. She is the 18th individual in MIAC history to receive Elite 90 honors and the first for the conference since the 2016-17 academic year.
Simon (Jr. | Elk River, Minn.) is the first Piper ever to the win the Laura Hurd Award. The junior forward led all Division III skaters with 26 goals and 37 assists on the season. A First Team West-All America selection for the second consecutive season, Simon has helped the Pipers to a 22-3-3 record and the team's second straight appearance in the Frozen Four. The award is named in honor of former Elmira College star Laura Hurd, who died in a car accident shortly after graduation. Hurd was a four-time All-American who led Elmira to victory in the first NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey Championship. Simon is the third MIAC student-athlete in history to win the award, joining former Gustavus standouts Sarah Moe (2002) and Andrea Peterson (2007). The runner-up for this year's Hurd Award was St. Thomas goalie Kenzie Torpy.
Torpy (Sr. | Oregon, Wis.) earned First Team All-America honors in addition to being runner-up for the National Player of the Year award. The 2019 MIAC Player of the Year became the conference's all-time wins leader earlier this season and currently ranks third in NCAA history with 69 career victories. She also has 22 career shutouts, ninth-most in D-III history. Torpy has a save percentage of 0.954 and a goals-against average of 0.918 this season, both top-three rankings in Division III. She has also been lights out in the postseason, going 3-0 this year with 82 saves and just three goals allowed.
Cooper (Sr. | Mendota Heights, Minn. | Sibley) earned Second Team All-America honors after helping the Tommies to a 25-1-2 record with 13 shutouts and eight games with one goal allowed this season. A three-time All-MIAC selection, Cooper has 13 goals and 30 assists in 85 career games.
Nightengale (Jr. | Bloomington, Minn. | Jefferson) earned Second Team All-America honors after leading all MIAC defenders with 13 goals and eight assists on the season. Nightengale tied for the team lead in special teams goals with five power-play scores and one shorthanded goal. The two-time All-MIAC honoree scored in 15 of her 26 games this season, recording multiple points in six games. She has 18 goals and 21 assists in 79 career games for the Auggies.
Schwartzman (Sr. | Hopkins, Minn. | Breck) earned Second Team All-America honors after collecting 19 goals and 26 assists for the 22-3-3 Pipers. The senior forward tallied a goal or assist in 21 of the team's 28 games this season. A three-time All-MIAC pick, Schwartzman has 52 goals and 73 assists in 103 career games.
The puck drops on the 2019 Division III Frozen Four at 3:00 p.m. on Friday with Adrian (23-4-2) taking on Plattsburgh State (27-2-0) in the first semifinal matchup at Saint Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights, Minn. MIAC rivals Hamline (22-3-3) and St. Thomas (25-1-2) will meet in the second semifinal contest at 7:00 p.m.
This is the first time ever that two MIAC squads have reached the Frozen Four and the first time in history that the conference is assured a spot in the national championship game. The winners of the two semifinal games will meet in the 2019 NCAA Division III National Championship Game at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. The MIAC squad that does not advance to the title contest will play in the third-place game at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.