(Courtesy of Norwich Athletics)
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – For the second straight year, the Norwich University women’s ice hockey team finished the league regular-season unbeaten to earn the right to host the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East Championship on Saturday and Sunday at Kreitzberg Arena.
The final four field includes the nationally No. 2-ranked Cadets, in-state rival Castleton State College, New England College and defending conference champion Manhattanville College.
Click on the link for the ECAC Women's East Tournament Page
Norwich (23-2-1) beat Nichols 8-0 in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row last Saturday to advance to its fourth straight final four weekend.
Senior forward Julie Fortier (26-23-49) was named the ECACâEast Player of the Year last week after leading the conference and all of Division III in scoring.
Freshman forward Kaycie Anderson (21-21-42) scored a natural hat trick in Norwich’s quarterfinal win over Nichols and was named the ECACâEast Rookie of the Year.
Junior Jillayne DeBus (17-25-42) and senior captain Melissa Rundlett (14-22-36) each earned ECAC East First and Second Team honors respectively. Sophomore forward Renee Lortie (18-16-34) rounds out the top five offensive leaders for the Cadets.
Senior defensemen Amanda Wilks (13-17-30) and Sarianne Lynn (6-27-33) were each named ECACâEast All-Conference. In goal, sophomore Kelly Fisk is 16-1-0 with a 1.27 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. She holds the NU single-season record for shutouts in a season with seven.
Castleton (10-13-2) is making its first appearance in the ECACâEast final four under first-year head coach Bill Bowes. The Spartans are led by junior Jade Werger who has 13 goals and six assists for 19 points.
Senior Meagan Hulbert (4-5-9), junior Hannah Martini (3-6-9), Danielle Roberts (2-7-9) and freshman Molly Howard (5-3-8) round out Castleton’s top five scorers. Roberts was named to the ECAC East Second Team.
In goal, junior Katharyn Dembowski and Paula Stephens have split the time. Dembowski is 5-8-0 with a 2.74 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Stephens is 5-4-2 with a 1.75 goals against average and a .944 save percentage.
Norwich is 10-0-1 all-time against Castleton. The Cadets won both meetings this year (4-0 and 10-0). Manhattanville (14-8-4) returns as the defending ECACâEast Tournament champions. The Valiants beat Norwich 4-2 to claim their eighth title and first since 2008. Up until Norwich’s back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, Manhattanville had won every ECACâEast Tournament title in the NCAA-sponsored era.
The Valiants are led by junior Katie Little (14-8-22) who was named to the ECACâEast Second Team. Junior Alyssa Taylor (3-13-16), junior Lynsey Schill (8-7-15), sophomore Haleigh Hutchinson (8-7-15) and junior Mary Rose Morrison (8-6-14) round out the top five scorers for the Valiants.
Junior Emy Cote was also named to the ECACâEast Second Team and she is the reigning ECACâEast Tournament Most Valuable Player. Cote is 8-7-2 with a 2.03 goals against average and a .909 save percentage and five shutouts.
Norwich is 3-7-0 all-time against Manhattanville, but the Cadets have won two of the last three meetings.
New England College (11-12-3) returns to the final four after a one-year absence after downing Southern Maine 3-2 in double overtime.
Senior forward Kaleigh Costello leads NEC with seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points. Freshman forward Madyson Moore (7-9-16), junior defenseman Sam Hippern (7-5-12), sophomore forward Alexis Fitzpatrick (1-10-11) and freshman forward Aubrey Fischer (5-4-9) round out the top five scorers for the Pilgrims.
In goal, junior Kristen Conners has compiled a 6-4-2 record with a 1.68 goals against average and a .938 save percentage to go along with two shutouts.
Norwich is 8-1-1 all-time against New England College, including an 8-1 and a 7-1 win earlier this season.
The women's tournament kicks off on Saturday afternoon at noon when No. 2 Manhattanville hosts No. 3 New England College, followed by No. 5 Castleton taking on No. 1 Norwich at 3 p.m. The two semifinal winners will advance to the ECAC East Championship game to be played on Sunday at 3 p.m. The winner gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.