Agosta Watches Duggan Win Kazmaier
For the fourth time in five years, Meghan Agosta was a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. But this year's award landed in the arms of Wisconsin's Meghan Duggan.
By ALEX SIBLEY
The crowd of more than 400 sat on the edge of their seats as USA Hockey President Ron DeGregorio announced the winner of the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.
He tore open the envelope containing the winner's name at a snail's pace and simply said, "and the winner is…Meghan."
With the top-two candidates having the name Meghan – Mercyhurst's Meghan Agosta and Wisconsin's Meghan Duggan – he built the suspense so the patrons, players and coaches could hear a pin drop.
Then after three or four seconds, he announced the last name of Duggan.
For the fourth time in her storied career, Agosta, the all-time leading scorer in women's hockey history, fell short in her bid to take home the MVP award.
"I'm just very honored to be in the top-three," said Agosta, who in four years at Mercyhurst scored 157 goals and collected 303 total points. "It's unfortunate; I would have loved to have been a Patty Kazmaier winner. But it's not always about winning. For me, it's about what I'm going to do tomorrow to be a better person."
The awarded is given to the best women's hockey player in the nation. Kazmaier was a four-year varsity letter winner at Princeton University before she died at the age of 28 after a long struggle with a rare blood disease.
Her awards include All-Ivy League Honorable mention as a freshman in 1981, as well as second team in her sophomore and junior seasons.
As a senior, she was named to the first team not only in the Ivy League, but also in the All-Eastern College Athletic Conference."
Duggan's not too shabby either.
The Wisconsin captain has won two championships at Wisconsin and a silver medal in the 2010 Olympics with the United States.
She has 234 points in 157 career games and is the heart and soul of the Badgers, who play Boston University Sunday in the NCAA title game 2 p.m. at Tullio Arena.
Like Agosta, she has a plethora of accomplishments under her belt as a collegiate hockey player. Now, she can add the Kazmaier to her trophy case.
"It's incredible to be on a level equated with her," Duggan said.
While the Wisconsin players erupted with joy for Duggan, some Mercyhurst players were surprised by the outcome.
Jesse Scanzano, who played the majority of the time side by side with Agosta on the ice, thought this was her best friends year to win.
"She was nominated four years in a row, so you would think in her fourth time she would win," said Scanzano, Agosta's roommate. "I've known her for a long time and she's just a great person to be around. She's so unselfish, and you would think somebody with that much talent would be stuck-up, but she's not. She's very humble."
Vicki Bendus, another Laker senior who won the Kazmaier last year and was nominated in the Top-10 for this year's award, knows what it's like to be in the hot seat waiting for the announcement to be made.
"We were disappointed," said Bendus of the outcome. "The whole team was probably just as nervous as she was. She's such a great person, and we really wanted her to win."
Agosta has been called the best player in the world by many, and there is no doubt she will go down in history as the best Laker to ever put on the uniform.
Since she arrived on campus, Agosta, a Ruthven, Ont. native, she has been named the CHA Player of the Year four times and selected CHA First Team four times.
On the international level, she won gold with Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. That same year she won the Directorate Award for best forward, earned a spot on the Media All-Star Team and also won the MVP of the women's tournament.
"I thought the fourth time was the charm," Mercyhurst coach Mike Sisti said. "She had an amazing season and has so many NCAA records, so this would have been a nice thing to add to all of her accomplishments.
"But it doesn't change who she is or what she has done. I thought all four years she easily could have won it."
In her final season, she passed Harvard's Julie Chu for the most points all-time, a record that stood for four years. She also is the NCAA's all-time goal leader.
But the four years at Mercyhurst is how she will be remembered in Erie. She was the face of both the men's and women's programs, and in her time put women's hockey on the map in western Pennsylvania.
"I've been very blessed and honored to put on a Mercyhurst jersey every day – it's not a right, it's a privilege," Agosta said. "I'll always remember my roots here at Mercyhurst, and I'll always be a Laker."
~Alex Sibley covers sports for the Erie Reader. You can contact him via e-mail at ASibley@Eriereader.com, or you can follow him on Twitter @ErieReaderSport.