Former UW Badger Hilary Knight voted IIHF’s first female player of the year
(AP) - Hilary Knight was the runaway leader in voting for the International Ice Hockey Federation’s first female player of the year award on Thursday, some six weeks after the 33-year-old captained the United States to win gold at the women’s world championship.
The IIHF announced Knight received 40.9% of the votes submitted by more than 50 media members, representing 16 countries, and a select group of federation officials. U.S. defender Caroline Harvey was second at 18.2%, followed by Slovakia’s 15-year-old Nela Lopusanova (13.6%).
The IIHF only revealed the percentage of votes each player received and not total votes cast in announcing the first-time award, which will be handed out annually. The IIHF is also introducing a male player of the year award, with the winner announced later this month.
Knight scored a tournament-leading eight goals, with three — including the game-winner — coming in a 6-3 win over Canada in the championship game in April. And she did so as a first-time team captain, filling in for Kendall Coyne Schofield, who missed the tournament because of pregnancy.
In 13 tournament appearances, Knight leads all world championship players with 61 career goals and 101 career points.
The gold was the United States’ 10th, and first since 2019, and ninth for Knight to tie the individual career record held by Canada’s Danielle Goyette.
“Reflecting on this year it’s hard to pinpoint one highlight, rather a collection of memories shared with my teammates,” Knight said in released statement. “I am grateful to be a part of such an incredible group and share these special moments with my friends.”
Knight has been the face of the U.S. women’s team, having also won a gold and three silver medals in four Olympic tournaments
Rounding out the top five vote-getters were Finland captain Jenni Hiirikoski (11.3%) and Canada’s Sarah Fillier (9.1%).
The IIHF said the award goes to a player who best exemplifies exceptional skill, determination, team success and sporting character on and off the ice during the preceding season. Players are judged on their combined performances in federation events and domestic leagues.
Knight had 10 points in 18 games playing for Team Sonnet during the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association Dream Gap tour.
The 20-year-old Harvey led the tournament with 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in capping a year in which she helped Wisconsin win the NCAA Tournament in her freshman season.
Lopusanova made a huge splash in making her debut at the Under-18 world championships in January. At 14, she was named the tournament’s top forward after leading all players with 12 points (nine goals, three assists) in five games. With an eye on pursuing a college career in the United States, Lopusanova is making the move to North America this fall to attend and play hockey for a high school in suburban Rochester, New York.
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