Womens hockey team clinches #1 seed, heads to playoffs on Saturday

Sophomore Amanda Conway, the top scorer for the undefeated women’s hockey team, will join her teammates in facing off against new England College in the playoffs this weekend. Norwich Athletics photo

  The Norwich Women’s Hockey team heads into the post-season with the number one seed for the NEHC playoffs. With an outstanding record of 21 wins, one loss, and three ties (21-1-3), the team clinched the top ranking and now begins its quest to be in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Frozen Four tournament in March.

  The women will host New England College at 3 p.m. in the NEHC Quarterfinals at Kreitzberg Arena on Saturday, Feb. 17.

  “We have so much team chemistry and I think that’s what makes us so successful,” said sophomore Amanda Conway, a 21-year old forward and physical education major from Methuen, Mass. “Our record just reflects that and proves we are a force to be reckoned with.”

  This past week, the team closed the regular season with a dominant 6-0 victory over the University of New England to seal its third perfect league regular season in program history.The team has been building momentum all season. In one of their best efforts of the season so far, the Cadets blanked the UMass Boston Beacons in a 7-0 domination Jan. 26 at Kreitzberg Arena in the battle between the top two NEHC teams.

  “We really just played as one unit,” said junior co-captain Bryn Labbe, a forward and psychology and education double major from Calgary, Alberta. “There’s nothing like winning in the end, but when you truly earn that win, it makes it that much better.”  

The Cadets had two pairs of goals, each from junior Robyn Foley and from sophomore Amanda Conway, who dominated the offense of the night.
Senior Sarah Schwenzfeier had three points that night, also leading the offense, with one goal and two assists as her linemate, Alyssa Hulst, ripped a goal in as well.

  “We had one of our best games as a team against them,” said Hulst, a 20-year old sophomore construction management major and forward from Scarborough, Maine. The Cadets have outscored their league opponents 59-6.

  This year has brought the Cadets one of their best records so far, but “(our) record is just a small detail in the grand scheme of the team’s success,” Labbe said.

  Norwich took the 1-0 lead over the Beacons at the tail end of the first period on Friday night when Foley scored her first of the season in the back of the net just in the nick of time. Schwenzfeier and Sam Benoit received the assists on Foley’s power play goal.

  “Sarah’s really good at finding me up top on the power play,” said Foley, a junior defenseman and health science major from Goulds, Newfoundland and Labrador. “She gave it to me just in time for me to pop a quick high shot off and ‘boom,’ it went it. The first goal is always the most exciting.”  

The second goal of the night was another power play goal scored by Hulst about ten minutes into the second period. Linemates Schwenzfeier and Adrianna Rossini both tallied the assists on Hulst’s goal, making it 2-0.  

As one of the top scoring lines, Hulst, Schwenzfeier and Rossini “just have that ‘liney’ chemistry,” Hulst said.
Amanda Conway scored her first of the night and her team-leading 17th of the season, with assists from line mates Labbe and Sophie McGovern, making it 4-0 with the Cadets in favor. Foley then scored her second of the night and of the season, bringing the Cadets up 5-0.  

“It’s easy to go out there every game and play our hearts out when we have so much love for each other and for the game,” said Maggie Conroy, a 21-year old junior defenseman and nursing major from Batavia, Ill. “We play for each other and for our coaches, and it’s so rewarding when we can give each other this amounted success.”  

Conroy had a well-deserved assist in Friday night’s game on senior Nicole Goebel’s goal in the third period to cap off the 7-0 win.
The Cadets then moved onto an intense face off against Salve Regina in their 2018 Senior Day game in Kreitzberg Arena.  

“Senior Day was a success,” said senior co-captain Laurie King, the 22-year old goaltender and engineering major from Waddington, New York. “We have a huge senior class this year and the under-classmen did an excellent job at preparing a great Senior Day for our families and us seniors to enjoy.” King got a shutout in the game, which was only fitting for Senior Day.

 Norwich got a goal and an assist each from juniors Labbe and Carly Menges and Hulst, as they led the offense of the game. Freshman Nicole Lorenzo scored her first collegiate goal as well. 

“It’s a really cool feeling scoring your first collegiate goal,” said Lorenzo, a 19-year old freshman forward and business major from Coral Springs, Fla. “Especially when you get to play in a rink like Kreitzberg every day. It’s unbelievable scoring in it because we have one of the nicest rinks in college hockey hands down. It just made it that much cooler.”  

Norwich only led Salve 1-0 for the first two full periods. In the third period though, the Cadets decided to really pick it up and scored four more goals, three of those goals within a four-minute time period.  

“We came into the locker room after the first two periods and (coach) Bolding was livid,” Conroy said. “We huddled up as a team after he left the dressing room and told ourselves we had to come out strong. After all, it was potentially our last period to play in Kreitzberg for the season, so we had to make it count. We had to do it for our senior class.”  

Norwich out shot Salve 49-16, as goaltender King saved all 16 shots that she faced, giving the Cadets the shutout. O’Connell made 44 saves against the Cadets.  

The Cadets then visited Elmira, N.Y., and came home with a tie with the Number 3 ranked team in the nation.
“We had an unbelievable game from my point of view,” said Rossini, a 20-year old junior forward and nursing major from Malden, Mass. “We responded to every one of their goals. Overall, it was a really back and forth game, which is exactly what you would expect from a game between two of the top three teams in the nation.  

The Cadets ignored the home-ice advantage on Saturday night as they “weren’t letting [Elmira] get away with the win,” King said. “We had too long of a bus ride ahead of us to lose.”  

During the Saturday afternoon matchup, the line of Hulst, Schwenzfeier and Rossini accounted for all of the Cadet’s three goals.
“It was a really scary game,” said Schwenzfeier, a 23-year old health science major from Hingham, Mass. “We had to come back from losing in the third and that’s never a position you want to be in, especially when you’re playing a team like them.”  

The Cadets had to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to save the game and end it in a tie. This is the second straight year in a row Norwich has tied Elmira at the Murray Athletic Center in Elmira, New York.  

The Cadets took the 1-0 lead after Hulst scored her sixth power play goal of the season and 11th overall goal of the season. Freshmen Maddi Blauth and Benoit both received assists off Hulst’s goal.  

“I guess I’ve gotten fairly decent at parking myself in front of the net for the screen and the tip,” Hulst said. “On the power play that’s especially important because you don’t want the goalie to see a thing back there, and we accomplished that and took full advantage.”
Elmira quickly responded to their 1-0 deficit and made the score 1-1. They then scored two more goals to finish off the second period. Norwich headed into the dressing room with a 3-1 deficit.  

The Cadets knew what they had to do coming into the third period and that was to “capitalize on every opportunity [they] had in the last period,” Rossini said.  

Norwich got the first notch on their comeback as Schwenzfeier scored the Cadets’ second goal of the game making the score now 2-3, with the Soaring Eagles still in favor.  

“I knew I had to play a certain role in this comeback,” Schwenzfeier said. “As a senior I just felt like I had to play a part, and I’m glad I could have.”
Rossini then tied up the game for the second year in a row as she notched a goal on the scoreboard five minutes into the third period, making it an even 3-3. Hulst and Benoit received assists off Rossini’s goal.  

“They’re a really tough team to play every year,” Rossini said. “They are always either right behind us or right ahead of us in the standings every year. The rivalry lives on.”

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