Daryl Watts started playing hockey around the age of 4, following in the footsteps of her older brother Jackson. Little did anybody know that Watts would become one of the greatest players in women’s collegiate hockey.
Beginning her career at Boston College in the 2017-18 season, Watts became the first freshman player to ever earn the Patty Kazmaier Award March 2018, thanks to an NCAA-leading 82 points in just 38 games, an insane 2.16 points per game.
Watts credits the success of that season to former teammate Caitrin Lonergan, but she also said that she wasn’t happy with Boston College after two years and wanted to play for a team with better chemistry and a better chance to win a national championship.
With that, she decided to transfer to the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team in June of this year. Watts explained that Wisconsin was an easy choice because of everything that it has to offer.
“I liked the city of Madison and it’s a great school,” Watts said. “The hockey program is unbelievable and the coaches Mark, Jackie and Dan are awesome. And then the team as a whole has such a great track record, like winning the NCAA title last year. I’m glad to be here.”
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Joining the hockey team over the summer, Watts didn’t take long to make her presence felt in Madison. She scored in her first seven games in a Badger uniform, tying a team record with former Badger Jinelle Zaugg, who achieved the feat in the 2006-07 season.
With Watts’ impressive ability to find the back of the net this season, she is averaging one goal per game and 3.13 points per game this season. Watts credits a lot of this success to her linemates, Sophie Shirley and Abby Roque. In fact, all three members of the dynamic trio rank in the top four of the NCAA points per game rankings, with Northeastern’s Alina Mueller being the odd one out.
“Playing with Abby and Sophie, our line has clicked right from the start. On the ice, I feel like we’re a really dangerous line and we’ve been really productive this season,” Watts said.
If Watts is able to keep this pace up, she has a chance to challenge for the highest points per game average in NCAA history. The record is currently held by Jennifer Botterill, who set the record in 2003 with Harvard, averaging 3.50 points per game (112 points in 32 games).
The output that the Watts-Shirley-Roque line has put up this year has simply been insane. The 2003 Harvard line of Botterill-Julie Chu-Angela Ruggiero averaged a record-setting 8.68 points per game, a record that nobody has come close to breaking. Put together, Watts, Shirley and Roque are currently averaging 8.01 points per game, a number that challenges this record to say the least.
In addition to her play at the college level, Watts was a two-time member of the U-18 Canadian National Team, in both 2016 and 2017, winning the silver medal both years.
Her career aspirations include playing for the Canadian women’s national hockey team in the Olympics. The next Winter Olympics will be held in 2022 in Beijing, and Watts has wanted to play in the Olympics basically her entire life.
“Since I was a kid, my goal was to play in the Olympics. My aspiration is to reach that goal, and just to make the most of these two years at Wisconsin,” Watts said.
Despite wanting to play in the Olympics basically her entire life, she clearly isn’t overlooking the opportunity in front of her. She joined Wisconsin to achieve her goal of an NCAA Championship.
Wisconsin has reached the Frozen Four six consecutive seasons and won the NCAA Championship last season. That being said, they clearly have what it takes to lift the trophy again this season. They currently stand as the No. 1 team in the country, outscoring opponents by a whopping 52–7 behind an extremely talented offense and a sure-handed goalie in Kristen Campbell.
Similar to how most Wisconsin fans probably feel, Watts is in agreement that the Badgers have what it takes to take home the trophy this year.
“I think we definitely have what it takes. My teammates, the returners have championship experience from last year, and that’s so important when it comes to playoffs. I’ve never been to a Frozen Four, so hopefully when we get there they’ll have some good advice and lead me through that process,” Watts said.
Watts’ journey from a high-scoring freshman at Boston College to a junior transfer at Wisconsin is certainly unconventional, but her presence in Madison is immense. Expect Watts to continue her strong play in a Badger uniform through the next two seasons in hopes of bringing the title back to Wisconsin.