COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario), a senior forward and captain of the seventh-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team, is a Top 3 Finalist for the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as announced Tuesday by USA Hockey, the governing body of the award.

At last week's Hockey East banquet, Paton was honored as co-Player of the Year, First Team All-Star and Three Stars Award recipient.

"Kelly Paton has been the most outstanding and valuable player in the East this year," UNH head coach Brian McCloskey stated. "Offensively, she's been one of the nation's top point producers. Defensively, she is the best forward I've ever coached at UNH.

"An elite penalty killer and dynamic playmakers, Kelly has been a standout performer on both sides of our special teams this season," McCloskey added. "She's the number-one reason our special teams have been dominant all season long.

McCloskey went on to say that "Kelly Paton is an outstanding leader and captain who has quietly gone about being the most dominant player in Hockey East this year and, in my opinion, is the most valuable as well."

The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award has been presented annually since 1998, when UNH’s Brandy Fisher won the inaugural award, to the most outstanding women’s ice hockey player in the nation. The award selection process began in early February, when NCAA Div. I women's ice hockey coaches nominated players for the Award. Those 45 players, which included UNH's Paton, Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) and Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario), were placed on an official ballot that was submitted to coaches to vote for the Top 10 Candidates.

Paton was named to the Top 10 on March 2, and then a 13-member committee comprised of Div. I coaches, representatives of the print and broadcast media, and a representative of USA Hockey selected the Top 3. Vicki Bendus (Mercyhurst College) and Noora Raty (University of Minnesota) are the other Finalists.

Paton, a senior forward and captain of the Wildcats, is ranked fifth in the nation in points per game (1.59) as well as fourth in assists per game (1.00) and 19th in goals per game (0.59); in other statistics, she is 16th in game-winning goals (four) and 17th in power-play goals (six). In 10 games vs. nationally-ranked teams, Paton has tallied 14 points (6g, 8a).

Paton completed Hockey East league play ranked second in points (32), assists (20) and power-play points (13) as well as third in goals (12).

Paton leads the team in points (51), goals (19) and plus/minus (+16) and is tied for the lead in game-winning goals with four. She is also second in assists (32) and tied for second in power-play goals (6). Furthermore, she is second in shots (122) and fourth in shooting percentage (.156).

She ended the regular season with a nine-game point-scoring streak in which she recorded 16 points (six goals, 10 assists). Paton opened the 2010 season with a 12-game point-scoring streak that included a stretch of seven consecutive games with an assist. She has tallied a point in 27 of 32 games with 12 multiple-point efforts.

Paton, an exercise science major, is a 2009 Hockey East All-Academic Team selection who has made Dean’s List three semesters. Her other 2010 accolades include three Hockey East Player of the Month awards and three Hockey East Pure Hockey Player of the Week honors.

The 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award will be presented March 20 at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center in conjunction with the Frozen Four.

Tickets to the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award ceremony may be purchased by calling 719-538-1184, or by e-mailing or faxing a completed ticket form, which can be found at Individual seats are $75, while tables of 10 are available for $700.

Including Fisher and Paton, UNH has had a total of 12 Top 10 Candidates. Nicki Luongo (1999), Carisa Zaban (‘99 and 2000), Michelle Thornton (‘01), Kira Misikowetz (‘02), Nicole Hekle (‘06), Martine Garland (‘07 and ’08), Sam Faber (‘08) and Jenn Wakefield (‘09) have been UNH’s other honorees. Luongo ('99) and Zaban (’00) were further honored as Top 3 finalists.

New Hampshire (19-8-5) will make its fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Championship when the Wildcats face off against second-seeded University of Minnesota-Duluth in a March 13 (3 p.m. Eastern) quarterfinal at UMD's DECC.

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