Laura Hurd Award Outlook
Now that the calendar has turned to February itâ€™s time to start the discussion about who deserves the prestigious Laura Hurd Award. The Laura Hurd Award has been awarded to the top Division III womenâ€™s hockey player as voted on by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) since 2000.
Last year, the AHCA named the award after the 2005 recipient, Laura Hurd, who died in a tragic car accident in June of 2006. Hurd was the first ever four-time First Team All-American in NCAA Division III womenâ€™s hockey history. She led Elmira College to back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2002 and 2003 in the first two seasons of the program and a runner-up finish in 2005. Hurd ended her illustrious four-year career in the purple and gold as the NCAA all-time career point leader with 120 goals and 117 assists for 237 points.
The award has traditionally been given to a senior rewarding a career more than one individual seasonâ€™s accomplishments. Last yearâ€™s winner was Plattsburgh forward Danielle Blanchard becoming the first non-senior to win the award in its nine year history. Here is last yearâ€™s AHCA press release on Danielle Blanchard winning the award and a brief history of it with a list of every winner since its inception in 2000.
This in no way is the official list of candidates for the 2009 award. This is simply just the top six players in my opinion that are the leading candidates for the award this season based on the past precedent that in most years the award rewards a seniorâ€™s career rather than an individual season.
Alex Blackwell, Manhattanville
Hometown: Brewster, N.Y.
Alex has tallied 16 goals on the season and 11 assists for 27 points. Her eight power play goals, five game winning goals, and +13 plus/minus rating are all tops on the team. She is tied for the team goals scored lead with Holly Nonis.
Points: 9th (27)
Goals: 4th (16)
Power Play goals: 2nd (8)
Game winning goals: 2nd (5)
Senior: 16 goals, 11 assists for 27 points
Junior: 7 goals, 3 assists for 10 points
Sophomore: 16 goals, 16 assists for 32 points
Freshman: 13 goals, 16 assists for 29 points
Career Total: 52 goals, 46 assists for 98 points
Other Accolades: Named to ECAC East All-Rookie team (2006), Two-time ECAC East All-Academic Team (2006, 2007)
â€œAlex Blackwell has demonstrated to be the most intense player I have ever coached. However, even more significant then Alexâ€™s hockey skills are her leadership abilities, her drive to succeed, and her dedication both on and off the ice. From the minute the puck dropped at our first practice and through every second of every shift of every game, Alex gives maximum effort. Besides Alexâ€™s talent and skills as a player, her leadership qualities are second to none both amongst her teammates as well as within her community. She has been one of the most actively involved members of the team in the â€˜Tunnel to Towers Runâ€™ and our first ever â€˜Think Pinkâ€™ game.â€
-Eric Lang, Manhattanville head coach
Kayla Coady, Elmira
Hometown: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Kayla has tallied 12 goals and 23 assists on the season for 35 points. Her 23 assists, 35 points, and 3 shorthanded goals are all tops on the team.
Points: 2nd (35)
Assists: 1st (23)
Power Play Goals: 6th (6)
Short handed Goals: 1st (3)
Senior: 12 goals, 23 assists for 35 points
Junior: 21 goals, 16 assists for 37 points
Sophomore: 20 goals, 27 assists for 47 points
Freshman: 20 goals, 22 assists for 42 points
Career Total: 73 goals, 88 assists for 161 points
Other Accolades: 2nd Team All-American (2008), 1st Team All-ECAC West (2007, 2008), ECAC West All-Academic Team (2007), ECAC West Rookie of the Year (2006), ECAC West All-Rookie Team (2006)
â€œKayla is having another outstanding season. Day in and day out she gives 100% effort in everything that she approaches while expecting the same of her teammates. Kayla is remarkably competitive, skilled and a smart hockey player who has the ability to take over a hockey game. Her contributions to our team are not limited to her offensive production as she has flourished while playing many key minutes in key situations throughout the year. Kayla is a genuine team player humbled by her achievements as a student-athlete. Her contributions to Elmira College, the hockey program and the Elmira community are simply unmatched.â€
-Greg Fargo, Elmira head coach
Danielle Blanchard, Plattsburgh
Hometown: Newmarket, Ontario
Danielle has tallied seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points on the season. Her 14 assists lead the team and her seven goals rank third on the team.
Assists: 15th (14)
Senior: 7 goals, 14 assists for 21 points
Junior: 28 goals, 20 assists for 48 points
Sophomore: 24 goals, 27 assists for 51 points
Freshman: 21 goals, 20 assists for 41 points
Career Total: 80 goals, 81 assists for 161 points
Other Accolades: 2nd Team All-American (2006), 1st Team All-American (2007, 2008), Laura Hurd Award winner (2008), ECAC West All-Rookie Team (2006), 2nd Team All ECAC West (2006, 2007), Most Outstanding Player of ECAC West Tournament (2007), NCAA All-Tournament Team (2007, 2008)
Jackie Carroll, St. Thomas
Hometown: St. Paul, Minnesota
Jackie has tallied six goals and 17 assists for 23 points on the season. She leads the team in assists and is third on the team in goals with six. She is tied for the team in game winning goals.
Assists: 6th (17)
Points: 16th (23)
Game Winning Goals: 8th (3)
Senior: 6 goals, 17 assists for 23 points
Junior: 13 goals, 24 assists for 37 points
Sophomore: 16 goals, 10 assists for 26 points
Freshman: 21 goals, 19 assists for 40 points
Career Total: 56 goals, 70 assists for 126 points
Other Accolades: 1st Team All-MIAC (2007, 2008), MIAC Rookie of the Year (2006), MIAC All-Rookie Team (2006)
â€œJackie Carroll has been a tremendous player for St Thomas for 4 years. Jackie leads both on & off the ice as a captain & by her play on a nightly basis. She loves playing the game of hockey, and being around her teammates. Jackie makes the players around her better, she is always looking to set up her teammates, almost to much from a coaching aspect as I find myself yelling for her to shoot quite often, but then see her setting up a line mate going to the net for a scoring opportunity. Jackie makes up for her lack of speed with her tremendous hands & vision. She handles the puck in traffic like few others. She has had a knack for finding the pipes this year but in big games, vs. Amherst she carried the load & she will down the stretch for the Tommies.â€
-Tom Palkowski, St. Thomas head coach
Nicole Grossman, Stevens Point
Hometown: Lindstrom, Minnesota
Nicole has tallied 13 goals and nine assists on the season. She is second on the team in goals, assists, and power play goals. She leads the team with shorthanded goals with three.
Goals: 14th (13)
Shorthanded goals: 1st (3)
Senior: 13 goals, 9 assists for 22 points
Junior: 20 goals, 17 assists for 37 points
Sophomore: 17 goals, 12 assists for 29 points
Freshman: 16 goals, 9 assists for 25 points
Career Total: 66 goals, 47 assists for 113 points
Other Accolades: 1st Team All-NCHA (2006, 2007, 2008), 1st Team All-American (2008)
â€œOf the many outstanding qualities Nicole embodies, it is her ability to change an entire game with one play that makes her unique and one of the best to play this game. Her skill level is amongst the best in the country, her determination drives her competitiveness, her problem solving creates opportunity, and her ability to involve the team has been integral to our success and highlights her impact on our program. Nicole is the kind of player whose achievements will leave a lasting impression and her lead-by-example attitude has made this team and this program better.â€
-Ann Ninnemann, Stevens Point head coach
Annmarie Cellino, Middlebury
Hometown: West Seneca, N.Y.
Annmarie has tallied 7 goals and 13 assists on the season for 20 points. She is fourth on the team in goals and second in assists.
Assists: 20th (13)
Senior: 7 goals, 13 assists for 20 points
Junior: 13 goals, 30 assists for 43 points
Sophomore: 14 goals, 20 assists for 34 points
Freshman: 26 goals, 21 assists for 47 points
Career Total: 60 goals, 84 assists for 144 points
Other Accolades: 1st Team All-American (2008, NESCAC Player of the Year (2008), 1st Team All-NESCAC (2006, 2008), 2nd Team All-NESCAC (2007), 2nd Team All-American (2006) NESCAC Rookie of the Year (2006)
These six players have distinguished themselves above the rest and Iâ€™m fairly confident that one of them will be the one left standing when itâ€™s all said and done in March when the Laura Hurd Award winner is announced at the NCAA Frozen Four banquet. They all have two months to add to their already impressive resumes and make a final push for the most coveted individual honor in D-III womenâ€™s hockey.
Around the Country
The biggest story line from a relatively calm week around Division III womenâ€™s hockey was Wednesdayâ€™s 2-2 between Plattsburgh and Middlebury. The Cardinals led Middlebury 2-1 with under a minute to go in the game but the Panthers scored a goal in the final moments to tie the game and send it to overtime. Neither side could put one in the net in overtime leaving Middlebury and Plattsburgh with two ties against each other on the season.
Southern Maine bounced back in a big way after falling to MIT two weeks ago with a 4-3 win against conference leading Manhattanville. R.I.T. asserted their second place position in the ECAC West with two close one goal wins over Utica.
This weekend features some extremely important match-ups for NCAA Tournament purposes as many top teams will be in action against each other. Elmira and Manhattanville meet in a non-conference match-up on Friday at the Thunderdomes in Pine Valley, N.Y. The Soaring Eagles desperately need a win to make up for their two losses to Middlebury.
Out West, Superior and Stevens Point will meet in a NCHA showdown between two of the conferenceâ€™s top powers. Superior currently trails the Pointers by three points in the standings. However, the Yellow Jackets have two games in hand on Point.
Back in the East, Amherst and Middlebury will make return trips to R.I.T after the Tigers traveled out to New England last year. The Tigers could cement their claim to an at-large bid with two wins or three points against the beasts of the NESCAC.