NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The nationally-ranked No. 2 Norwich women's ice hockey team begins its 2011 national championship title defense on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Kreitzberg Arena against the Amherst Lord Jeffs.
The Cadets are coming off winning their third ECACâ€ˆEast Tournament title in the last four years with a 6-3 win over Manhattanville on Sunday. Amherst lost a 1-0 overtime heartbreaker to rival Middlebury in the NESCAC Championship.
Saturday's matchup will not only be a rematch of the 2010 National Championship game, it will also pit the two programs that have combined to win the last three national championships against each other.
Amherst won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 with the second one coming against Norwich in a 7-2 victory at Gustavus Adolphus' Don Roberts Arena in St. Peter, Minn. However, the Lord Jeffs failed to qualify for last year's NCAA Tournament after losing to Middlebury in the NESCAC title. That opened the door for Norwich's historic run that was capped off with a 5-2 win over top-ranked Rochester Inst. of Technology.
Amherst leads the all-time series 3-1-0 against Norwich, including a 2-0 win over the Cadets earlier this season on Jan. 24 at Orr Rink. Norwich's lone win came on Dec. 11, 2010 at Kreitzberg Arena after the Cadets scored four unanswered goals in the third period to down the Lord Jeffs 5-2.
Norwich is led by Mark Bolding '95, who is in his fifth year at the helm of the program and has compiled a 101-31-10 record. Bolding has won back-to-back Division III Coach of the Year honors by the American Hockey Coaches Association after leading the Cadets to consecutive Frozen Four appearances and their first National Championship last season.
Amherst is led by Jim Plumer, who is in his ninth season as the head coach at Amherst and has compiled a 158-68-19 record. Under Plumer's guidance, the Lord Jeffs have won 20 or more games in five of the last six seasons. He was also named the AHCA National Coach of the Year in 2009 after leading Amherst to its first national championship with a 4-3 overtime win over Elmira.
Senior forward Julie Fortier leads Norwich and all of Division III with 29 goals and 23 assists for 52 points. Earlier this season she broke Sophie Leclerc's all-time program career points record of 163. She now sits with 91 goals and 81 assists for 172 career points.
In goal, sophomore Kelly Fisk is 18-1-0 with a 1.40 goals against average and a .918 save percentage to go along with program single-season record seven shutouts.
Senior forward Ellen Swiontowski leads Amherst with 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points.
Junior defenseman Geneva Lloyd (9-15-24) was named the NESCAC Player of the Year and is a force at both ends of the ice for the Lord Jeffs. She is also lethal on the power play with a team-leading seven power play goals.
Senior Josie Fisher (8-15-23), freshman Tori Salmon (6-11-17) and sophomore defenseman Ashley Salerno (2-14-16) round out the top five scorers for Amherst. Senior Emily Vitale ranks second on the team in goals with 10 tallies on the year.
In goal, Amherst has split the time between Sinead Murphy and Kerri Stuart. Murphy has started 17 games to Stuart's 10 and has compiled a 13-3-1 record to go along with 0.99 goals against average and a .953 save percentage to go along with six shutouts. Stuart is 8-2-0 with a 1.30 goals against average and a .930 save percentage.
Faceoff for Saturday's NCAA Quarterfinal showdown is set for 3 p.m. at Kreitzberg Arena. The Norwich men will take on Wentworth at 7 p.m. to complete the Norwich hockey NCAA Tournament Quartefinal doubleheader on Saturday.
BY THE NUMBERS
Norwich: 6.18 (1st)
Amherst: 3.04 (11th)
Norwich: 1.18 (3rd)
Amherst: 1.15 (2nd)
PENALTY MINUTES PER GAME-
Norwich: 8.8 minutes (38th)
Amherst: 9.0 minutes (35th)
Norwich: 35.6 percent (1st)
Amherst: 17.4 percent (17th)
Norwich: 87.3 percent (12th)
Amherst: 91.3 percent (2nd)
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