THE STORYLINE: No. 1/2-ranked Norwich (24-1-3, 14-0-0 NEHC) opens its quest for its second NCAA Division III National Championship on Saturday when it hosts Morrisville State for a quarterfinal round matchup.
Norwich qualified for its ninth NCAA Tournament following winning its eighth NEHC Tournament title, including its second straight. The Cadets beat UMass Boston 7-0 in the title game, which was a rematch of the 2016 championship that UMass Boston won, 2-0. Norwich also beat Plymouth State 4-1 and New England College 10-0 en route to the title.
Morrisville is making its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance following winning its second straight Colonial Hockey Conference championship. The Mustangs upended Endicott College for the second year in a row in overtime with a 3-2 victory to earn the inaugural Colonial auto-bid into the NCAA Tournament. Morrisville also beat Nichols 6-0 in the semifinals.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: A berth in the NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey Championship is on the line on Saturday. Norwich will be looking to make its seventh trip to the national semifinals, while Morrisville will be looking to make its first. The Mustangs are in just their third season as a varsity program.
The winner of Saturday's game will take on the winner of the Gustavus Adolphus/Hamline/UW-Eau Claire pod in the national semifinals. Should Norwich win, the Cadets will earn the right to host the NCAA Championship weekend for the first time in women's program history. UCHC Champion Elmira and NCHA champion Adrian will also meet in a quarterfinal matchup, while four-time defending champion Plattsburgh State hosts NESCAC champion Middlebury in the last quarterfinal matchup.
THE SERIES: Today will mark the first time Norwich and Morrisville State will meet in women's ice hockey. The two teams had three common opponents this year in Middlebury, Endicott and Castleton. Morrisville won all three meetings with Endicott, but lost to Castleton 1-0 and Middlebury 4-1. Norwich beat Endicott 4-1, tied Middlebury 2-2 and swept two meetings vs. Castleton 9-0 and 8-1.
THE COACHES: Norwich is led by Mark Bolding '95, who is in his 11th season at the helm of the NU women's ice hockey program. The three-time American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) Coach of the Year has compiled an impressive 242-62-20 record in his tenure as the only head coach the program has known.
Morrisville State is led by third-year head coach Melissa Lomanto, who has guided the Mustangs to back-to-back Colonial Hockey Conference titles. Lomanto has compiled a 107-66-16 record in seven years at Adrian, Canton and Morrisville. She is a 2006 Utica College grad.
ABOUT THE CADETS: Norwich is led offensively by the NEHC Player of the Year in sophomore forward Amanda Conway, who has 29 goals and 22 assists for 51 points this season.
Junior Adrieana Rossini (21-20-41), sophomore Sophie McGovern (14-25-39), junior Bryn Labbe (14-19-33) and senior Sarah Schwenzfeier (14-23-37) round out the Cadets' top offensive players and earned NEHC All-Conference honors.
In goal, senior Laurie King is the all-time program shutouts record holder and has compiled a 19-1-3 record with a 1.16 GAA and a .933 save %.
ABOUT THE MUSTANGS: Morrisville State is led offensively by freshman forward Alexziz Giannamore, who has a team-leading 14 goals and four assists for 18 points.
Sophomore Maddison Devlin has nine goals and seven assists for 16 points. Junior Maria deWilde (4-12-16), sophomore Kylie Cameron (8-6-14) and sophomore Jessica Ujcik (3-9-12) round out the Mustangs' offensive leaders.
In goal, freshman Karoline Arvik was named the Colonial Hockey Conference Goalie of the Year. She posted a 17-7-3 record with a 1.22 goals against average and a .945 save percentage.
By the Numbers: (national rank)
Norwich: 5.68 (1st)
Morrisville: 2.22 (33rd)
Norwich: 1.11 (4th)
Morrisville: 1.33 (7th)
PENALTY MINUTES PER GAME-
Norwich: 8.4 minutes (31st)
Morrisville: 7.9 minutes (36th)
Norwich: 32.4 percent (1st)
Morrisville: 10.8 percent (50th)
Norwich: 90.9 percent (6th)
Morrisville: 90.3 percent (9th)