THE STORYLINE: No. 9/5 nationally-ranked Norwich (18-5-2, 15-0-1 NEHC) begins its quest for its ninth NEHC Championship today by hosting No. 8 seed Salem State University (6-14-4, 3-10-3 NEHC) at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Kreitzberg Arena.
The Cadets earned the No. 1 seed for the NEHC Tournament for the ninth straight year. With a victory today, NU would advance to the NEHC semifinal round that it would also host next Saturday at Kreitzberg Arena.
Salem State is winless in its last nine, with its last victory coming on Jan. 11 with a 2-1 win over Salve Regina. The Vikings lost 4-2 to Castleton last weekend and tied Plymouth State 3-3.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: A berth in the NEHC Tournament semifinals is on the line on Saturday. Norwich will be looking to make its 11th straight league tournament semifinal appearance, while Salem State will be looking for its first NEHC playoff win in program history.
In the other three quarterfinal matchups, No. 2 Suffolk hosts No. 7 UMass Boston at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. No. 3 Castleton hosts No. 6 Plymouth State at 3 p.m., while fourth-seeded Southern Maine hosts Johnson & Wales at 4 p.m.
Norwich has secured hosting rights throughout the NEHC playoffs as long as the Cadets keep advancing. NU would host a semifinal against the lowest remaining seed next Saturday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. with a victory this Saturday. The Cadets would also host the NEHC final on Saturday, March 2, should they advance.
The last time Norwich did not make the NEHC Tournament Championship was its inaugural season in 2007-08.
THE SERIES: Today marks just the third all-time meeting between Norwich and Salem State in women's ice hockey as the 2018-19 season marked the first year in the NEHC for the Vikings. Norwich beat Salem State 5-1 at home and then followed up with an 8-0 road victory later in the season. This is Salem State's fourth season as a varsity program after previously competing in the Colonial Hockey Conference.
THE COACHES: Norwich is led by Mark Bolding '95, who is in his 12th season at the helm of the NU women's ice hockey program. The four-time American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) Coach of the Year has compiled an impressive 263-67-22 record in his tenure as the only head coach the program has known, while leading the Cadets to two NCAA Division III National Championships (2011, 2018).
Salem State is led by second-year head coach Malcolm Spurling, who previously coached girl's youth hockey at Assabet Valley and the Rivers School.
ABOUT THE CADETS: Norwich is led offensively by the two-time NEHC Player of the Year in junior forward Amanda Conway (Methuen, Mass.), who has 27 goals and 11 assists for 38 points this season. Senior forward Adrieana Rossini (Malden, Mass.) has nine goals and a team-leading 18 assists for 27 points and reached the 100-career-point milestone this year. Junior Sophie McGovern (Hermantown, Minn.) has 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points and is four points away from becoming the 11th member of the 100-career-point club.
Sophomore defenseman Samantha Benoit (Bow, N.H.) (5-16-21) and junior forward Alyssa Hulst (Scarborough, Maine) (6-14-20) round out Norwich's top-five offensive leaders. Senior captain forward Bryn Labbe (Calgary, Alberta) (7-7-14) became the 10th member of the 100-career-point club earlier this season.
In goal, sophomore Emily Lambert (Riverview, Mich.) has grabbed the reins of the No. 1 goalie spot. Lambert has compiled an 11-4-1 record with a 1.43 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS: Salem State is led offensively by senior forward Danielle Kelley, who has nine goals and eight assists for 17 points.
Junior Kylie Currier (8-6-14) and senior Jacqueline Sindoris (9-3-12) are also closing in on double-digit goals.
Juniors Kerryann Goode (4-8-12) and Rose Sullivan (4-5-9) round out the top-five offensive leaders.
In goal, Isabelle Woodward (3-8-3, 3.49 GAA, .891 Save %) and Sarah Plourde (3-6-1, 2.85 GAA, .907 Save %) have split the time.
By the Numbers: (national rank)
Norwich: 4.36 (7th)
Salem State: 2.12 (31st)
Norwich: 1.48 (13th)
Salem State: 3.33 (53rd)
PENALTY MINUTES PER GAME-
Norwich: 8.8 minutes (28th)
Salem State: 11.9 minutes (4th)
Norwich: 23.1 percent (11th)
Salem State: 14.4 percent (36th)
Norwich: 89.1 percent (14th)
Salem State: 81.4 percent (50th)