NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Connecticut College women's ice hockey team will be among eight schools competing in the NESCAC Women's Ice Hockey Championship Tournament beginning this weekend.
The Camels, who will be making their 12th straight appearance, are seeded seventh and will face second-seeded Middlebury on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. for the right to advance to the semifinal round at the site of the highest remaining seed the following weekend. The winner of the NESCAC championship match on Sunday, March 3 will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey Tournament.
Connecticut College (10-10-3, NESCAC 6-7-3) will aim to advance to the semifinals for the fourth straight season and win a quarterfinal matchup for the first time on the road since having to travel as a lower seed in 2014. In that year, the team was the eighth seed and ironically knocked out top-seeded Middlebury in overtime by a 2-1 decision.
This year's squad has relied on one of the league's top defenses and one of the nation's best goaltending to find success. Senior Bailey Mertz (Glenville, N.Y.) boasts a .955 save percentage, which ranks fifth among NCAA Division III goalies, and also enters the weekend sixth in the country with a 1.00 goals against average. Freshman Carly Denora (Venora, N.J.) has also been impressive between the pipes with a 1.56 goals against average and a .918 a save percentage. Seniors Paige Michel (Essex, Conn.) and Olivia Good (Woodbury, Conn.) as well as juniors Erin Healy (Melrose, Mass.) and Ellie Branka (Medford, Mass.) have headlined a defense which is only yielding 1.35 goals per game.
On the offensive end, the Camels have been paced by seniors Jordan Cross (Saugus, Mass.) and Elena Gualtieri (Rome, N.Y.). Cross has registered a team-leading 14 points on eight goals and six assists, while Gualtieri has contributed five goals and seven assists for 12 points.
Currently ranked 10th nationally, Middlebury (14-7-3, NESCAC 9-5-2) is the defending conference champion and has won 10 NESCAC titles in its illustrious history. The Panthers have relied on defense as well two goaltenders who have been platooning time and enter the weekend with nearly identical statistics. Lin Han has a .943 save percentage and a 1.22 goals against average over 13 appearances, while Anna Goldstein has played in 11 games and has a .947 save percentage along with a 1.20 goals against average. Both goalies played against the Camels earlier this year, as Han made 25 saves in a 3-0 shutout on Nov. 30 and Goldstein turned away 27 shots when the teams skated to a 1-1 tie at Dayton Arena on Dec. 1.
At the other end of the ice, Madie Leidt leads the team in scoring with 22 points on nine goals and 13 assists. Jenna Marotta has three goals and 12 helpers for 15 points, while Jenna Letterie has found the back of the net nine times as well.
Anyone who is unable to make the trip to Vermont will be able follow the quarterfinal match online.