March 15, 2017 - National Women's Hockey League (NWHL)
BROOKLYN, NY - The National Women's Hockey League recognized some its top players today during the second annual #NWHLAwards, conducted via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Congratulations to this season's winners!
Most Valuable Player (selected by the NWHL Players Association)
Brianna Decker, Boston Pride
"Being selected by her peers as MVP for the second year in a row is a well-deserved honor for Brianna," said Pride coach Bobby Jay. "Outside of her obvious skills - skating, passing, shooting - what separates her from others is her extreme competitiveness and drive. She so badly wants to win and be the best player all the time. She practices like she plays in every game."
Best Defender (selected by the media)
Megan Bozek, Buffalo Beauts
"Although she's known for her booming shot, Boz is much more than that," said Beauts assistant coach Craig Muni, the former NHL defenseman. "She's outstanding in both ends of the ice. She's difficult to play against, controls the pace of a game, rushes at will and quarterbacks our power play. She is a team leader whose international experiences have been invaluable to our rookie defenders."
Best Goaltender (selected by the media)
Katie Fitzgerald, New York Riveters
"Katie has been great for us all season," said Riveters assistant coach Sis Paulsen. "I'd seen her play at St. Cloud State and knew what she was capable of. She's a great person and always very supportive of our other goalies, Sojung Shin and Sarah Bryant. They push each other, and the result is that we've had strong goaltending all season. Katie has always had a strong worth ethic. Now her confidence is high."
Denna Laing Award (to the player who most exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to her sport, as chosen by the NWHLPA)
Ashley Johnston, New York Riveters
"Ashley is our captain and leader on and off the ice," said Riveters head coach Chad Wiseman. "When you see her commitment in getting from her day job hours away to our practices and games, it shows how dedicated she is not just to the Riveters, but women's ice hockey. She's a role model. We're very proud of her."
The NWHL Fans' Three Stars of the Season (in alphabetical order, as decided by ballots submitted by more than 8,000 fans)
Anya Battaglino, Connecticut Whale
Harrison Browne, Buffalo Beauts
Rebecca Russo, New York Riveters
"To be selected alongside two of the league's brightest stars, Harrison and Rebecca, is such an honor," said Battaglino. "They are both such amazing pioneers and have done so much to move our sport forward and develop deep connections with our fans. The fans are the lifeblood of the NWHL and their support is the reason we are able to chase our dreams. Thank you for all of the love, the support, and the fun. The league is made better every single day by our fans and I couldn't imagine this journey without them."
NWHL Foundation Award (to the players most actively applying the core values of hockey to her community as well as growing the game and improving hockey culture, as selected by the league's general managers)
Alyssa Gagliardi, Boston Pride
Kelsey Neumann, Buffalo Beauts
Elena Orlando, Connecticut Whale
Michelle Picard, New York Riveters
"Every player in our league is an incredible advocate for the game, but this season Alyssa, Kelsey, Elena and Michelle are among the very best," said NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan. "We are proud that they are part of the NWHL and grateful for their service to women's hockey."
In addition, the Boston Pride (16-1) were honored as the 2016-17 regular season champions, and Brianna Decker (14-17-31 in 17 games) is the recipient of this year's award to the NWHL's Leading Scorer.
The NWHL Playoffs take place this week. The first semi-final is Thursday at 7:30 pm, as the No. 1 seed Boston Pride host the fourth-seeded Connecticut Pride at Warrior Ice Arena. The New York Riveters, who finished the regular season in second place, host the third-seeded Buffalo Beauts on Friday at 7:30 pm at Barnabas Health Hockey House in Newark. The 2016-17 Isobel Cup Final is on Sunday, March 19 at 6:00 pm at Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. Tickets for all playoff games are available now at nwhl.zone/tickets.