RIT’s Dagg wins Laura Hurd Award as top D-III women’s player

Senior forward Sarah Dagg of the Rochester Institute of Technology women’s team added two more accolades to her sparkling four-year career resume in a Tigers uniform on Thursday night at the NCAA championship banquet at the Rochester Hotel and Plaza.

After ranking second in the nation in scoring with 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points, the St. George, Ontario, native earned the most prestigious award in Division III women’s ice hockey by being named the 2011 Laura Hurd Award winner.

The Laura Hurd Award is given annually to the best D-III women’s ice hockey player as voted on by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA).

“I wasn’t expecting to win,” Dagg said. “There are a lot of great players in the country and I’m just really happy to be considered among them. Winning this award is a tremendous honor but, playing for a national championship has been my true goal this season and we have that opportunity to do that this weekend.”

RIT coach Scott McDonald said he was a bit surprised when he heard his senior two-year captain’s name called by ECAC Director of Sport Administration Michael Letzeisen, who presented the award.

“I’m kind of speechless, to be honest with you,” McDonald said. “I thought it was between Norwich’s Sophie Leclerc and Sarah. I think it was rightfully so as they both had tremendous careers and for it to go Sarah’s way, I think she’s pretty lucky in that sense and it kind of caps off a tremendous career where she’s been so consistent for four years. I couldn’t be prouder of her.”

Dagg was also named to the RBK first team All-American squad for the third time in her career as well after being named the ECAC West player of the year after ranking second in the league with 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points.

“I just come on the ice and play hard every game and I guess that pays off,” Dagg said. “I just tried to work hard all season and we have a lot of great players on this team and on my line so that always helps. I have a lot of assists so my teammates helped me achieve this honor by scoring goals.”

The four other finalists for the award were Leclerc, Trinity’s Kim Weiss, St. Catherine’s Michaela Michaelson and Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Kristin Faber. All four were named their respective conference’s player of the year.

Last year, Trinity’s Isabel Iwachiw became the first goaltender to win the award in its 12-year history.

In January 2007, the AHCA voted to rename the Division III women’s player of the year award after 2005 recipient Hurd, who passed away in an automobile accident in the summer of 2006.

The former Elmira standout is the all-time career point leader for D-III women’s hockey with 237 points.

“It really isn’t just about the points with Sarah,” McDonald said. “It’s about the leadership and the locker room presence she brings to the table. She gets the girls fired up and her teammates love her to death. She’s just a happy kid and people love being around her and the energy she brings.”

Dagg and her teammates will have the chance to complete an already outstanding season that saw them win their first ECAC West regular season and tournament title, as well as have three All-American selections by winning the school’s first women’s hockey national championship on home ice.

“It’s a dream come true to host this event,” Dagg said. “To win a national championship would be amazing, especially in my senior year. We’ve been working for three years trying to fill in the missing pieces and this year I really think we do have all the pieces to our puzzle. To be here is just an honor, to win it would the icing on the cake.”

The NCAA semifinals start Friday with Norwich taking on Gustavus Adolphus at 3:30 p.m. EDT and then RIT hosting Middlebury at 7 p.m. The two semifinal winners will meet in the national championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday after the two semifinal losers play in the consolation game at 3:30 p.m.

Laura Hurd Award winners

2000 — Sylvia Ryan, Middlebury
2001 — Michelle Labbe, Middlebury
2002 — Sarah Moe, Gustavus Adolphus
2003 — Angela Kapus, Middlebury
2004 — Molly Wasserman, Williams
2005 — Laura Hurd, Elmira
2006 — Emily Quizon, Middlebury
2007 — Andrea Peterson, Gustavus Adolphus
2008 — Danielle Blanchard, Plattsburgh State
2009 — Kayla Coady, Elmira
2010 — Isabel Iwachiw, Trinity
2011 — Sarah Dagg, Rochester Institute of Technology