Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Langille Photography
NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Senior forward Julie Fortier scored two goals, including the game-winning goal to lead the top-seeded Norwich women's ice hockey team to a 5-2 win over fifth-seeded Castleton State in ECAC East Tournament semifinal action on Saturday afternoon at Kreitzberg Arena.
With the victory, the Cadets advanced to their fourth straight ECAC East Championship game and clinched head coach Mark Bolding his 100th career coaching win in just five seasons.
Norwich (24-2-1) will face arch-rival Manhattanville on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. in a rematch of last year's ECAC East Championship game which Manhattanville won 4-2.
Fortier (Saint-Malachie, Quebec) opened the scoring at the 15:19 mark of the first period when she capitalized on a rebound off an initial shot from Melissa Rundlett (Saco, Maine) to beat Castleton goalie Paula Stephens and give Norwich a 1-0 lead.
Fortier flipped the puck past a diving Stephens after she made a blocker save on Rundlett's shot from below the circle on the left wing. The goal was Fortier's 27th of the season which set a new program single-season record for goals.
Less than a minute later Jillayne DeBus (Howell, Mich.) made it 2-0 when she jammed home a loose puck in the crease over Stephens. Sophomore Brittany Sharman (Ayer's Cliff, Quebec) and freshman Tyne Gove (Berwick, Ontario) recorded assists on the goal.
Fortier increased the lead to 3-0 at the 11:10 mark of the second period when she wristed a shot top shelf right corner and over the glove of Stephens for her second goal of the night. Rundlett fed Fortier from the side boards to pick up the assist.
The three-goal lead was short lived as just 16 seconds after Fortier's goal, Castleton finally got on the board when Hanna Martini beat Norwich goaltender Kelly Fisk (Hannibal, N.Y.) with a wrist shot that bounced off the inside of the right post and into the back of the net. Danielle Roberts picked up an assist on the goal for the Spartans.
Just before the end of the second period though sophomore forward Elle Kadel (Fairbanks, Alaska) regained Norwich's three-goal lead by redirecting an initial shot by Brittany Sharman (Ayer's Cliff, Quebec) through Stephens' five-hole to make it 4-1 Cadets with 34 seconds left in the period.
Castleton (10-14-12) cut the deficit to two again 49 seconds into the third period when Nicole Ruman beat Fisk off assists from Jessica Spidle and Stephanie Bardell.
However, that's as close as Castleton would get. Norwich added a goal late when Kayla Parsons (Fairbanks, Alaska) tallied her fourth goal of the season after her slap shot from the blue line trickled past Stephens.
Fisk made 15 saves for Norwich to improve 17-1-0 on the year. Stephens turned aside 45 shots for Castleton and finishes the season with a 5-5-2 record.
Norwich and Manhattanville have accounted for every ECAC East Tournament title over the 10-year history of the league during the NCAA Division III era. Manhattanville has eight titles, including seven straight from 2002-2008. Norwich won in 2009 and 2010 before Manhattanville thwarted the Cadets' bid for a three-peat last year at Kreitzberg.
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