ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Norwich defeated Gustavus Adolphus, 4-3, in overtime when Julie Fortier deflected a shot from Allie Schwab past Golden Gusties goalie Danielle Justice. Norwich advanced to the Women’s Division III Ice Hockey championship for the third consecutive year.
The win sets up a championship matchup against No. 1 Rochester Institute of Technology, who the Cadets defeated in the 2011 national championship, 5-2.
Fortier, the 2012 Laura Hurd Award winner as the best Division III women’s ice hockey player, came up big for the Cadets, scoring the game-winning goal and also assisting on Norwich’s third goal. Despite her big game success and recognition as the nation’s best, Fortier is quick to point to the team’s success as a unit.
“You try not to think about [the pressure],” said Fortier. “When you have a team like this, it’s easy.”
Norwich struck first at 6:34 into the first period when Meaghan Papagano put one past Justice, who came into the game undefeated in 20 games.
“Norwich put a lot of pressure on the net; they have a lot of terrific shooters,” said Justice. “They put the puck in the high corners, and I’m not one of the biggest goalies. They capitalized on that.”
The Golden Gusties responded later in the first when Melissa Doyle beat Cadets goalie Kelly Fisk with 5:18 left.
Doyle recorded her second goal of the evening, and only her fifth of the season, 6:46 into the second with assists to Jenna Christense and Meagan Wanecke.
Norwich knotted up the score again when Jillayne DeBus went five-hole on Justice on a feed from Renee Lortie. DeBus, the second-leading scorer in Division III, tallied her 22nd goal of the season to give her 50 points on the year.
Norwich regained the lead on the goal by Kaycie Anderson, as Division III’s best offense flexed its muscle. Each of the Cadets’ three leading scorers had a goal in the contest.
An elbowing penalty put Gustavus Adolphus on a power play, one of three Norwich penalties in the final period. The Golden Gusties netted the power-play goal 9:33 into the third when Lindsey Hjelm ripped a shot past Fisk from open ice.
Gustavus Adolphus went into overtime with 1:57 remaining on a power play, but was unable to get any shots on goal. Fortier’s game-winner was the only shot on goal in the period.
For the Cadets, a rematch against top-ranked RIT awaits. The Tigers beat Norwich, 4-1, on October 29 in the third game of the season for both teams. Also on the line is sole possession of the NCAA record for wins in a season by a women’s Division III ice hockey team.
“I think we just need to regroup and realize that we are the underdogs again,” said Norwich coach Mark Bolding. “We’re going to have to come out firing and work hard. It’s a big challenge.”