Photo Courtesy of Adam Hatt Photography
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich women's ice hockey team advanced to the Division III National Semifinals for the third straight year with a 5-0 shutout of Amherst on Saturday afternoon in NCAA Quarterfinal action at Kreitzberg Arena.
Junior forward Jillayne DeBus (Howell, Mich.) continued her sensational 2012 postseason with two goals and an assist to give her a total of five goals and two assists in four playoff games so far.
Sophomore goalie Kelly Fisk (Hannibal, N.Y.) stopped all 18 shots she faced to improve to 19-1-0 and increase her program single-season shutout record to eight.
Norwich (26-2-1) got on the board at the 4:24 mark of the first period when junior forward Stephanie Invernizzi (Hingham, Mass.) tipped a shot over the shoulder of Amherst goalie Sinead Murphy with an assist from Sarianne Lynn (Wethersfield, Conn.) to give the Cadets a 1-0 lead.
Lynn corralled a puck near the top of the right circle and fired a shot toward the net. Invernizzi got her stick on the shot and redirected the puck over the right shoulder of Murphy and into the back of the net for her seventh goal of the season.
The Cadets added to their lead in the final minutes of the opening frame when DeBus redirected a pass from sophomore defenseman Kayla Parsons (Fairbanks, Alaska) past Murphy to make it 2-0 at the 18:32 mark of the first period.
Parsons threw the puck down to DeBus in the middle of left faceoff circle and DeBus redirected the puck to the far post to catch Murphy off guard and going the wrong way for her 20th goal of the season.
DeBus kept the Cadets' momentum rolling with her second goal of the game just 1:28 into the second period when she flipped home a puck while stationed all alone on the doorstep of the crease.
DeBus capitalized on an Amherst player trying to clear a rebound away after Murphy made a save on Lynn's initial shot. However, the puck squirted right to DeBus who knocked it past Murphy to make it 3-0.
Amherst (21-6-1) tried to cut into the lead with a couple of chances just past the eight-minute mark of the second period but Megan Doyen had a shot turned aside by Fisk and then Ellen Swiontkowski just missed wide 12 seconds later.
Sophomore forward Renee Lortie (Cornwall, Ontario) pushed the Norwich lead to 4-0 at the 8:53 mark of the second period when she finished off a 2-on-1 with Tyne Gove (Berwick, Ontario) by tapping Gove's centering pass through Murphy's five hole.
The Lord Jeffs threatened again with 7:03 remaining in the period when Tori Salmon made a tremendous individual effort with a toe drag to create space and get Fisk to commit to her in the low slot. Instead of shooting, Salmon dropped the puck back to Barrett McBride who had a completely wide open net to shoot at, but pushed the shot just wide of the left post.
A few minutes later Kaitlyn McInnis was on a partial breakaway for Amherst but once again missed wide right with a shot.
The Cadets capped the scoring midway through the third period when Julie Fortier (Saint-Malachie, Quebec) scored on a power play for her 30th goal of the season off a pass from behind the net from senior captain Melissa Rundlett (Saco, Maine).
Norwich outshot Amherst 26-18 for the game. Murphy made 21 saves for Amherst to finish the year at 13-4-1.
The Cadets avenged an earlier 2-0 defeat to Amherst on Jan. 24, which was also the last time they lost with the win. Saturday's game was the first time Norwich and Amherst had met in the postseason since the 2010 National Championship game which Amherst won 7-2. The two programs have combined to win the last three national titles with Amherst going back-to-back in 2009 and 2010 while Norwich won last year.
Norwich will now meet Gustavus Adolphus for the second straight year in the NCAA Semifinals next weekend at a site still to be determined. The Cadets beat the Gusties 5-4 in the semifinals last year in Rochester, N.Y.
Top-ranked Rochester Inst. of Technology beat Concordia (Minn.) 5-2 in the other early NCAA Quarterfinal game on Saturday. Middlebury and Plattsburgh meet at 7 p.m. on Saturday night to decide the fourth and final team. If Middlebury were to win, the final four teams in 2012 would be an exact replica of the 2011 tournament.
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