Nerves or no nerves, Stevenson’s Blackburn finding the back of the net

Stevenson freshman Chelsea Blackburn has scored 15 goals in her first 20 games for the Mustangs (photo: Stevenson Athletics).

Chelsea Blackburn said she was nervous coming to Stevenson as a freshman this year.

If scoring 15 goals in her first 20 games is the way Blackburn deals with nerves, one has to wonder how she’d perform calm and relaxed.

Blackburn currently leads the Mustangs in scoring with her 15 goals among 18 points and is sixth in the country with her goal totals.

“I just wanted to make a name for myself and I think I have,” said the native of Westland, Mich. “Each day I live by the [Pat Riley] quote, ‘Each warrior wants to leave the mark of his will, his signature, on important acts he touches. This is not the voice of ego, but of the human spirit, rising up and declaring that it has something to contribute to the solution of the hardest problems, no matter how vexing.’ I think I’ve brought someone who is willing to work for what she wants and strives to be the best that she can. I’m constantly looking to learn new things and improve on anything I can. I love being a part of a team and working for one goal, and that’s to win.”

Idle this weekend after sweeping Sacred Heart last weekend and now having won five of their last six games, Stevenson, playing as an independent this season, is 14-6-0.

For the 2015-16 season, Stevenson will be part of the new ECAC North Atlantic conference.

“I think it will bring more competition,” Blackburn said of next season. “We have a huge reason as to why we want to win. We are fighting for a title, which is what we all want to accomplish as hockey players, not only competition with other teams, but within our own team to fight for our right to play.”

As a Detroit-area native that excelled with the Team Detroit program, Blackburn knew she’d have a chance to play college hockey, but needed to find the right fit.

She found it at Stevenson.

“When I decided to go to Stevenson, I chose it through the hockey perspective based off the fact that they were a young team trying to make a name for themselves,” said Blackburn. “Also, I really loved the fact that the girls and coaches were both so welcoming toward me. For academics, I chose Stevenson because I am going into nursing and they have an amazing nursing program here.”

Still, Blackburn still has to pinch herself now and again as at times it’s hard to fathom that she is excelling in the college game.

“I started playing hockey when I was five because of my older brother,” remembered Blackburn. “He played it and I was always there watching him and I instantly fell in love with the game. I never wanted to actually say I was good enough to play college hockey until I started getting noticed when I was on a 16-and-under team. Then I realized it was something I wanted to reach and achieve.”

Not only this season, but for as far back as she can remember, creating offense has been a major cog in Blackburn’s overall makeup on the ice.

“Offense has been a huge part of my game, and I think just working hard at practice and pushing to improve has gotten me where I am right now with hockey,” she said.

That said, she’ll gladly trade individual success to help the team continue to move forward.

“I love how close we all are,” said Blackburn. “No one is left out and we all stand up for each other with everything we do on and off the ice. We’re a huge family who sticks by each other’s sides through thick and thin.

“On a personal level, I want to continue making a difference on the ice and as for a team level, I want to continue our winning streak and fighting for the wins we deserve. I think we are the underdogs of D-III because of being a newer team, but we owe it to everyone out there to show them what a difference we can make.”

Just two players in all of women’s D-III have 20 goals or more – Buffalo State’s Kara Goodwin (20) and Elmira’s Ashton Hogan (23). … Hogan’s Elmira teammate, Ashley Ryan, continues to dominate the score sheet with 10 goals and 42 points through 17 games – a 2.47 points per game average. … The Division III Women’s Poll for Jan. 26 was the same as it was for Jan. 19, save for Wisconsin-Superior entering into a tie with No. 10 Bowdoin. … Plattsburgh netminder Camille Leonard has put up some gaudy numbers this season: 9-0-0, 0.55 GAA, .967 save percentage and five shutouts; the latter three are all tops in the country.