Wednesday, March 11, 2015

UND Women's Hockey Season Review

In a season of struggles during the first half of the season (9-9-2), the North Dakota Women's Hockey team managed to earn yet another 20 victory season, but once again are on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA tournament due to the automatic bid by CHA champion RIT.

Looking at the PairWise rankings, it made me think. Is it time to expand the NCAA tournament to 10 teams with two play in games between seeds 7-10? There are certainly questions that could be raised about this. Mercyhurst and Minnesota-Duluth were the two other 20 win teams that were on the outside looking in on selection Sunday and with the auto bid by RIT being a factor, let those four teams battle it out for seeds 7 and 8 and keep the rest of the tournament with the same structure it has now. Just a thought.

The story of the second half for UND had to be the play of Junior Goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie, who set countless records for UND this season. She set the career victory record, eclipsing the 50 win mark with the two victories against Ohio State two weeks ago. She also holds the career shutout record at 14, single season shutout record at 9, but came just shy of the single season wins record, which she holds, with 18 victories on the season. Amsley-Benzie also would set the school shutout streak record at 297 minutes and 13 seconds.

This was also a season where the ladies in kelly green and white would play with heavy hearts. Early in the season, Sophomore Forward Lisa Marvin was struck by a wreckless driver while filling up her truck with gas on the side of the road after she had ran out. The injuries she would sustain forced her to have a few surgeries to help repair the damage, and would end her season, if not her hockey career. Since that moment, the team would pull the laces tighter and play for Lisa, which was a big motivating factor for their amazing second half run, that included 8 shutouts, one of which was against the Gophers.

Although the season didn't end the way they wanted to, there is still many positives to take from what looked like was going to be a very long season for UND.

TEAM AWARDS:

Most Valuable Player: Shelby Amsley-Benzie
Amsley-Benzie set numerous team records this season, and her 8 shutouts since the turn of the calendar to 2015 are nothing to laugh at. She ended the season with a 1.21 goals against average and a .952 save percentage. She was also a top 10 finalist for the Patty Kaz Memorial Award, women's hockey's version of the Hobey Baker, and the only goalie to make the list this season. She would also record an assist during a game this year too making just Goalie Lexie Shaw the only player who dressed and played to not record a point.

Rookie of the Year:
No freshman would dress in the line-up this season so this award will not be given.

Offensive Player of the Year: Josefine Jakobsen
Jakobsen led the team in goals this season at 16, one more then Sophomore Amy Menke, and was the driving force down the stretch for this team's offense. Some may ask why team point leader Meghan Dufault, Becca Kohler, or game winning goals leader Amy Menke isn't the winner of this award, but Jakobsen's niche to find the net helped UND finish off many games this season.

Defensive Player of the Year: Shelby Amsley-Benzie
Keeping pucks out of the net is a big part of team defense and although the defensive core for this UND squad is one of the most talented in the country, it is hard to not give this to Amsley-Benzie, especially with her just under 300 minute shutout streak to end the season and her 9 shutouts this season.
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Most Improved: Amy Menke
The sophomore forward had a year she will probably remember for a very long time. She was third in team scoring with 28 points, and would lead the team with 5 game winning goals. She would set career highs in goals (15), assists (13) and points (28). With her willingness to go to the net, I can only see these numbers going up in the future.

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