NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Sophomore forward Sophie McGovern scored the game-winning goal with 1:33 left in the third period to clinch a 2-1 victory for the Norwich women’s ice hockey team over Elmira in the 2018 NCAA Division III Championship game at Kreitzberg Arena on Saturday night.
The Cadets capitalized on a late power play opportunity when McGovern took a pass out of the corner from sophomore line mate Amanda Conway and buried a shot in the top right corner of the net. McGovern made no mistake, firing the wrist shot over the glove of Elmira senior goalie Kelcey Crawford to clinch the program’s second national championship and first since 2011.
McGovern was name the Tournament Most Outstanding Player following her heroics her 16th goal of the season and by far the biggest in her young career at Norwich. Bryn Labbe also picked up a second assist on the game-winning goal.
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Norwich (27-1-3) finished the season on an 18-game unbeaten streak and for the second time ended up following up the men’s hockey team winning a national championship with one of their own a year later. The men won in 2010 prior to the women’s first title with a 5-2 win over Rochester Institute of Technology. The men also won last year in Utica, N.Y. before this year’s title for the women.
— NE Hockey Conference (@NEHockeyConf) March 18, 2018
Conway had a goal and an assist to lead the Cadets’ offense once again as she finished the season with a NU single-season record 34 goals and 59 total points en route to earning All-Tournament team honors. Junior defenseman Carly Menges (Novelty, Ohio) also joined Conway and McGovern on the All-Tournament team.
After a scoreless first period, Conway finally broke the ice on the scoring at the 11:58 mark of the second period on a breakaway to extend her single-season record total to 34 goals on the season. Junior defenseman Robyn Foley started the play by chipping the puck out the NU zone and hitting Conway in stride streaking up the right wing. Conway sped past an EC defender who tried to step up to make a play and barreled in on Crawford. Conway rifled a wrist shot over the glove of Crawford into the top right corner of the net to make it 1-0 Norwich.
Elmira (25-3-2) notched the equalizer at the 16:02 mark with a tremendous individual effort from Sarah Hughson on the penalty kill. She sent a clear out of the defensive zone and then came in hard on the fore check from the left wing. She stole the puck from a NU defender behind the net and then surprised King with a shot from behind the net that snuck between King’s pad and the near goal post from a low angle.
For the second time in program history, the @NorwichCadets are NATIONAL CHAMPS of D-III women’s hockey.
— Jack Korte (@JackMyNBC5) March 18, 2018
Norwich outshot Elmira 28-24 and went 1-for-5 on the power play. Senior goalie Laurie King (Waddington, N.Y.) made 23 saves to pick up her 22nd win of the season and 52nd career victory as she retires as the all-time program leader in wins and shutouts.
Crawford made 26 saves for Elmira College to fall to 22-3-2 on the season. She was named to the All-Tournament team along with Soaring Eagles’ Sarah Strawinski, who scored a natural hat trick to lead EC to the title game.
Saturday night’s crowd set a new NU women’s hockey attendance record with 1,142 fans packing into the stands to witness a Norwich team win the second national championship on the ice at Kreitzberg Arena. The men defeated Oswego State 2-1 in 2003 as well for its second national championship in program history. The two programs have now combined to win six NCAA national championships since 2000.