Two hockey goalies nominated for their sports biggest individual awards while excelling in the classroom


Amy Halvorson

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Two hockey goalies nominated for their sports biggest individual awards while excelling in the classroom

Zane McIntyre and Shelby Amsley-Benzie are used to extremely high GPAs and ultra-low GAAs.

McIntyre, University of North Dakota men’s hockey net minder, and Amsley-Benzie, UND women’s team goalie, are excelling academically at the same time they are two of the hottest puck stoppers in all of NCAA Division I collegiate hockey. They’re so good that both were nominated for their sports’ most coveted individual awards ? the Hobey Baker Memorial Award and the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.

Grandma’s influence

For McIntyre, his success on the ice and in the classroom is all a part of a legacy.

“My Grandma Susie worked at UND in the occupational therapy department while I was growing up and she helped my sister and me,” McIntyre said. “She inspired us to commit to education because it really opens up your opportunities in life.

McIntyre’s academic achievement at UND is a continuation of his success at Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls, Minn., only 45 miles northeast of the UND campus. In high school, his pursuit of excellence landed him on the National Honor Society.

McIntire said growing up he would often spend weekends with his grandma at UND's Hyslop Sports Center. He says Grandma Susie was a big reason why he ended up at UND. He wanted to follow in her footsteps by going into occupational therapy, but the demands of the major made it difficult for him to play hockey at the same time. So, McIntyre chose psychology, a discipline that had similar academic requirements. And he was able to keep playing the sport he loved.

“I chose it because you can get a lot of the pre-requisites out of the way and that would be pretty beneficial for when I do apply to the occupational therapy program,” he said.

Not only is McIntyre busy protecting his goal on the ice, he’s also achieving his goals in school. His main classroom goal is to be a 4.0 GPA (Grade Point Average) student and to understand and relate to what he’s taught instead of just memorizing and forgetting it once the test is done.

McIntyre usually dedicates his Mondays and Tuesdays to homework and constantly plans ahead when it comes to exams and deadlines for upcoming assignments.

“And for the rest of the week, I try to focus on hockey,” said McIntyre. “The most important thing I’ve learned is that everything is correlated whether you’re doing well in the rink or in academics. If you’re doing well in one, you’re probably going to do well in the other.”

McIntyre has led an impressive hockey career, so far, including being a National Hockey League draft pick by the Boston Bruins prior to college. He is UND’s all-time leader with a .924 career save percentage, and is currently tied with former UND goalie Aaron Dell (2009-12) for third all-time in the program with a 2.15 career GAA (Goals Against Average). This season, he’s carrying a stellar 1.93 GAA.

Being nominated for the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s most outstanding men’s ice hockey player is a testament to McIntyre’s hard work and his Grandma Susie’s influence on him.

“I think it would be pretty special if I were to win the award,” said McIntyre.

‘Best I can be’

Amsley-Benzie, a fellow northern Minnesotan from Warroad, also believes in aligning her life in the rink with her work in school. She lives by a creed when it comes to academics.

“Do the best I can and be the best I can be,” said Amsley-Benzie. “I have the same mentality on the ice; I just want to be the best out there.”

She’s well on her way, and the women’s hockey world has taken notice, too, by nominating her for its most prestigious honor. Though, Amsley-Benzie did not make the short list of finalists announced Thursday, she was thrilled to be recognized among the best women’s players for accomplishments both on and off the ice. Only three goaltenders have ever won the award in its 18-year history. Only a junior, Amsley-Benzie likely will be a leading contender on the “Katz Watch” next year when she returns for her final year at UND.

“It was a huge accomplishment for me.” Amsley-Benzie said. “It made me really proud just to be thought of and nominated.”

Amsley-Benzie, too, has led an impressive hockey career. As her high school team’s captain at Warroad High School, she led her team to two back-to-back Minnesota State High School Class A championships, and since then, she has received numerous awards acknowledging her success in both athletics and academics.

Just this week, Amsley-Benzie was named the WCHA’s Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, earning All-WCHA First Team honors and winning the WCHA's Goaltending Champion award with a 1.17 GAA. She currently leads the country with a .954 save percentage, and throughout this season, set new season and career shutout records with 9 and 14, respectively. She held teams scoreless for an amazing six straight games (297 minutes and 13 seconds) at one point this season ? yet another program goaltending record.

Amsley-Benzie, a chemical engineering major, says she is meticulous when it comes to her time-management skills.

“The longer you’re here, the better you learn to manage your time,” said Amsley-Benzie.

She spends four to five hours a day at the rink and the rest of the day she dedicates to school work.

Amsley-Benzie said support from classmates, who help her catch up when she has to miss classes for away games, has been a key factor in helping her maintain her sterling 4.0 GPA in such a demanding academic discipline like chemical engineering. She also has learned to make the most of the time she has for academics and communicate better with her professors.

“I knew I wanted to go into a science field but I didn’t want to be a doctor,” Amsley-Benzie said. “I really liked chemistry and math so I thought I’d give chemical engineering a try.”

After she graduates, Amsley-Benzie hopes to one day work with pharmaceutical industry.

Amy Halvorson University & Public Affairs student writer

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