“I leave you with one last message continue to challenge yourself and chase your dreams.”
Late Friday evening, Loren Gabel was slumped over in defeat, having come up short against the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four semifinals.
“Unfortunately, we just weren’t getting a lot of offensive opportunities and when we did, we were just unlucky … I just really love playing with [my teammates] and it’s unfortunate to lose,” said the two-time ECAC Player of the Year in the post-game press conference, her voice trailing off as she could no longer fight back her tears.
Despite the 5-0 loss to the Badgers, Gabel was a bright spot for her team, posting six of the Golden Knights 14 shot attempts. Leading up to NCAA Tournament, Clarkson averaged 31.4 shots per game but was stymied by Wisconsin in the semifinal.
Despite the disappointing loss, there was more to be excited about come Saturday afternoon for Gabel and the Golden Knights. The team exchanged their jerseys for the slightly more formal attire required for the 2019 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Brunch.
Gabel was one of three finalists, alongside Megan Keller of Boston College and Annie Pankowski of Wisconsin. In the end, it was tears once again for Gabel, this time tears of joy! She walked to the stage to collect the first-ever Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award presented live on television.
The sold out room and those watching listened to Gabel thank her family, her coaches, and the teammates through sniffles.
“To both my parents who have been there for me throughout my entire career, thank you for being along to inspired me to achieve the dreams I once aspired to accomplish. It was the both of you who pushed me to succeed my limits every single day,” Gabel said from the podium.
The Clarkson table was a mix of teammates crying in solidarity and those giggling as their goals leader read through her acceptance speech. Overall, the mood was jovial for a team denied a chance to defend their title less than 24 hours earlier. Perhaps that comes with time, perspective, and something new to celebrate.
“To the best group of women, my hockey team. I couldn’t ask for better teammates. For me, this is not an individual. I could have not achieved this without all of you,” said Gabel of her teammate from the stage.
“I would like to thank all of you for being amazing teammates and for making the times that that are so fun and enjoyable.”
The ‘thank yous’ and ‘goodbyes’ came a day earlier than she hoped for, but what Gabel and her fellow seniors did while playing for the Golden Knights will not be soon forgotten.
“I think her and her classmates, you know, making four straight frozen fours and winning two national championships just set the bar really high for our program, and even a lot of other programs out there as well,”said head coach Matt Desrosiers after the award presentation.
“What we’ve been able to accomplish over the last few years has shown that a lot of other programs around the nation that that were able to kind of compete with those, you know, those top schools in the WCHA that had so much success early on. So they’ve really kind of paved the path for a lot of different people in that sense.”
Loren Gabel joins Jamie Lee Rattray (2014) as the only Clarkson players to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.
Photographs by Matthew Raney