Women’s Hockey: Norwich punches ticket to National Championship, downs Hamline 5-1

Alyssa Hulst women's hockey action vs. Hamline

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University women's ice hockey team is now one win away from claiming the program's second national championship following a 5-1 victory over Hamline University on Friday night at Kreitzberg Arena. 

Norwich (26-1-3) got a goal and an assist from the dynamic sophomore duo of Sophie McGovern (Hermantown, Minn.) and Amanda Conway (Methuen, Mass.), as well as junior defenseman Carly Menges (Novelty, Ohio) to lead the Cadets' offense on the day. With her two points, Conway surpassed Julie Fortier '12 for the single-season program points record after coming into the game tied at 55. 

Senior goalie Laurie King (Waddington, N.Y.) made 29 saves to pick up her 51st career victory and surpass Cindy Fortin '11 for the program record for career wins. 

Norwich took a 2-0 lead after the first period with goals by Sarah Schwenzfeier (Hingham, Mass.) and Conway at the 7:34 and 11:15 mark of the opening period. 

Schwenzfeier opened the scoring by roofing a shot over the shoulder of Hamline goalie McKenna Hulslander for her 15th goal of the season on the power play to give the Cadets a 1-0 lead. Junior forward Adrieana Rossini (Methuen, Mass.) and freshman defenseman Samantha Benoit (Bow, N.H.) picked up the secondary assist on the goal. 

Norwich extended the lead to 2-0 just under four minutes later with Conway scoring her nation-leading 33rd goal of the season on a breakaway off assists from McGovern and Menges. McGovern found Conway all alone at the Hamline blue line with a tape to tape pass to allow her to skate in. Conway made a move and deked around the goalie and then tucked it behind Hulslander near post for the goal.

Hamline (21-5-3) cut the deficit to 2-1 quickly in the second period as Jordan Hansen scored a power play goal to get the Pipers on the board and seize back the momentum. Zoey Lobejko picked up the assist on Hansen's shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that found its way through traffic and beat King. 

Hamline continued to put the pressure on Norwich, dominating the first part of the second period and leading shots on goal 7-2 near the midway point. Hamline also hit a post just before the midway point to nearly tie it. 

However, Norwich was able to seize the momentum back at the 13:35 mark with Bryn Labbe (Calgary, Alberta), capitalizing on a Hamline mistake with too many players on the ice to make it 4x4 and end a power play. 

Labbe scored unassisted after she took a puck off the left boards and fired a wrist shot between a defender's legs and then also through Hulslander's pads to make it 3-1 Norwich with her 15th goal of the season. 

McGovern and Menges left no doubt with the Cadets' fourth and fifth goals coming just over a minute apart at the 8:35 and 9:49 mark of the third period. McGovern scored off a pass from Conway from behind the net for her 15th goal of the season. 

Menges tallied her second goal of the year at the 9:49 mark of the third period with a shot from the point that beat Hulslander along the ice through traffic. Benoit picked up her second assist of the night and 26th of the season along with Muranda Toews (Grand Prairie, Alberta) on the secondary assist.  

Hulslander made 18 saves for Hamline to fall to 13-3-1 on the season. King improved to 21-1-3. 

Both teams finished 1-for-4 on the power play and Hamline outshot Norwich 30-23 in the game. 

Hamline will now face Plattsburgh State in the Third Place Game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Kreitzberg Arena. Norwich will look to win the program's first national championship since 2011 when it takes on Elmira College at 7 p.m. in the title game. Elmira College defeated four-time defending national champion Plattsburgh State 3-2 in double-overtime on Friday in the early game behind a hat trick from Shannon Strawinski. 

Elmira has won three national championships with its most recent coming in 2013. The Soaring Eagles also won the first two NCAA Division III National Championships in 2002 and 2003. 

Norwich and Elmira have met once before in the final four with the Cadets beating EC 3-2 in 2010 at Gustavus Adolphus in the semifinals. Elmira beat Norwich the year before 3-2 in the quarterfinals in Elmira. Norwich most recently beat Elmira 2-1 in overtime in the 2014 NCAA Quarterfinals at Kreitzberg Arena.

Earlier this season, Norwich and Elmira skated to a 3-3 tie at the Soaring Eagles' home rink, the Murray Athletic Center on January 20.