Handicapping the Hurd

 (Tim Brule)

In just over two months, at the NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship banquet, the 2013 Laura Hurd Award winner will be announced. The award is given annually to the best D-III women’s ice hockey player as voted on by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA).

Last year, Norwich’s Julie Fortier earned the prestigious award, named after the former Elmira College standout who passed away in an automobile accident in the summer of 2006. Hurd won the Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Player of the Year award in 2005, and to this day remains the all-time career points leader for D-III women’s hockey with 237 points.

In January 2007, the AHCA voted to rename the Division III Women’s Player of the Year award after Hurd to honor her legacy and impact on the women’s Division III hockey world.

Traditionally the award has been given to a senior, recognizing a player’s career accomplishments rather than just a single season. Plattsburgh’s Danielle Blanchard was the only non-senior to win the award when she won as a junior in 2008.

Taking the fact it’s generally an award given to a senior, here’s who I would speculate are the early frontrunners to win the Hurd this season.

Teal Gove, Plattsburgh (Sr.) — Forward
Gove is enjoying another stellar season this year, as she leads the top-ranked and undefeated Cardinals with 10 goals and has eight assists for 18 points. She topped the 100-career point mark earlier this season, and now has 57 goals and 50 assists for 107 points in her illustrious four-year career.

After scoring 19 points in her freshman campaign and 29 in her sophomore season, Gove has taken her game to an elite level over the past two seasons. She led the Cardinals with 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points last year on her way to being named the ECAC West Player of the Year.

Geneva Lloyd, Amherst (Sr.) — Defense
Lloyd has emerged as one of the most dynamic players in D-III over the past four seasons, playing both defense and forward for the Lord Jeffs. She made an immediate impact as a member of Amherst’s 2010 national championship team her freshman season, and hasn’t looked back since. She has scored eight goals and tallied seven more assists for 15 points. In 93 games played, she has 38 goals and 64 assists for 102 points.

Last year, Lloyd was named the NESCAC Player of the Year after leading the Lord Jeffs back to the NCAAs after a brief one-year hiatus in 2011. She has been the model of consistency over her four seasons with 31, 32, and 24 points respectively, and now 15 points through 11 games this season.

Lindsey Hjelm, Gustavus Adolphus (Sr.) — Defense
Similar to Lloyd, Hjelm has played both defense and forward in her standout four-year career for the Golden Gusties. As much as Lloyd has been the dominant blueliner in the East Region, Hjelm has matched her stride for stride in the West. Hjelm has two goals and four assists for six points on the season, and has played a large role in Gustavus Adolphus’ perfect 10-0-0 start to the year. Last time out, Hjelm played in her 100th career game and she has tallied 36 goals and 50 assists for 86 points.

Hjelm has been an integral part of Gustavus Adolphus’ three straight trips to the Frozen Four, and has the Gusties setting up to make a run at their fourth straight so far this season. Hjelm’s size and tenacity make her an opposing coach’s nightmare when trying to matchup against her.

Jess Newstrom, Bethel (Sr.) — Goalie
Newstrom has flown under the radar during her four-year career because of not playing on one of the traditional Western powers of Gustavus Adolphus, Wisconsin-Superior, Wisconsin-River Falls, etc. However, you’d be hard pressed to find many goaltenders that have better numbers, considering Bethel has traditionally been a middle of the pack MIAC team.

Newstrom is 4-2-1 this season with a 1.27 goals-against average and a sensational .957 save percentage. Her goals-against average ranks seventh in the nation, and her save percentage is fourth. For her career, Newstrom has a 39-28-6 record with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.

Katie Little, Manhattanville (Sr.) – Forward
Little has had a remarkable four-year career for the Valiants, compiling 114 points in 96 career games. She has 63 goals and 51 assists and was named the ECAC East Rookie of the Year during an incredible freshman campaign where she tallied 27 goals and 15 assists for 42 points. So far this season, Little has seven goals and five assists for 12 points. She leads the team in points and has been a key factor in Manhattanville being the last remaining unbeaten team in the ECAC East.

Curse of the Hurd Award?
Similar to the Patty Kazmaier Trophy on the D-I side, there have been few and far between players to win the Hurd and an NCAA national championship in the same season. Since the NCAA started sponsoring a D-III championship in 2002, only two players have ever accomplished the feat, with Middlebury’s Emily Quizon in 2006 and Plattsburgh’s Blanchard in 2008. In three out of the last four seasons, the curse has gone to a whole new level, with three of the winners making it to the national championship game, but losing in it.

If actually chosen as finalists, Hjelm and Lloyd would have the chance to become just the second defenseman to ever win the Hurd Award in its 14-year history. Gustavus Adolphus’ Andrea Peterson won in 2007. Also, Newstrom would have the chance to become the second goalie to ever win, with Trinity’s Isabel Iwachiw being the only goaltender to receive the Hurd Award in 2010.

Laura Hurd Award Winners
2000 — Sylvia Ryan, Middlebury College
2001 — Michelle Labbe, Middlebury College
2002 — Sarah Moe, Gustavus Adolphus
2003 — Angela Kapus, Middlebury College
2004 — Molly Wasserman, Williams College
2005 — Laura Hurd, Elmira College
2006 — Emily Quizon, Middlebury College
2007 — Andrea Peterson, Gustavus Adolphus
2008 — Danielle Blanchard, Plattsburgh State
2009 — Kayla Coady, Elmira College
2010 — Isabel Iwachiw, Trinity College
2011 — Sarah Dagg, Rochester Inst. of Tech.
2012 — Julie Fortier, Norwich University