MARSHFIELD, Mass. – After clinching the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) regular season crown and posting a 20-2-3 overall record, Saint Anselm College has earned the number one overall seed in the NEHC Open Tournament.
The NEHC Open serves as the season-ending tournament for the non-Division III members of the NEHC's women's league. In addition to the conference's four members (Saint Anselm, College of the Holy Cross, Franklin Pierce University and Saint Michael's College), Sacred Heart University also participates in the tournament.
The Hawks clinched the NEHC regular season crown in fitting style on the last day of the regular season with a win over University of Southern Maine. Saint Anselm led the NEHC in scoring offense this year at 5.82 goals/game, while also boasting three of the league's top-five scorers. Alison Butler's (Danvers, Mass.) 33 points led the NEHC this season while teammate Alex Starzyk (Enfield, Conn.) followed closely as the second-leading scorer with 28 points. Junior Kaitlyn Spillane (Franklin, Mass.) came in at fifth in the league with 25 points. The Hawks also boast a stout defense, allowing a miniscule 1.24 goals/game in NEHC play.
College of the Holy Cross enters the tournament as the number two seed after posting a 21-4-0 record on the season. The Crusaders are led by Elizabeth Scala (Rumford, R.I.) and Kara Violette (Biddeford, Maine) who each posted 24 points in NEHC play. Holy Cross has also been stingy on defense, allowing only 1.47 goals/game to NEHC opponents on the season.
After positing a 17-6-1 overall record, Franklin Pierce University earned the three seed in the NEHC Open. The Ravens are led by senior goaltender Shannon O'Neil (Tewksbury, Mass.) who ranks second in minutes played in the NEHC with 957. Her .937 save percentage is tops in the conference while her 1.63 goals against average ranks at fifth. On offense they will look to Alex Brolsma (Bloomington, Minn.) to continue her strong junior campaign. Her 19 points in the NEHC rank 13th while her 11 assists rank tenth in league assist scoring.
2017 NEHC Open host institution, Sacred Heart University, claim the number four seed after posting an 18-8-1 overall record against varsity opponents. Taylor Moreland (Kenosha, Wisc.) leads the way for the Pioneers with 35 points on the season. Freshman Jayne Lewis (Troy, Ill.) has been a force on the blueline as her 19 points rank her third on the team in scoring.
Rounding out the tournament field at the fifth seed is Saint Michael's College. Senior Erin Dwyer (Weymouth, Mass.) has been a leader for the Purple Knights this season. Her 12 points in the NEHC on nine goals and three assists lead the way for the program. Senior goaltender Tina Frasca (Norwood, Mass.) has played the bulk of the minutes between the pipes for Saint Michael's. Her .917 save percentage rank ninth in the NEHC.
With Sacred Heart set to host the weekend tournament, they will receive a bye into the semifinals. Franklin Pierce will host Saint Michael's in Wednesday's play-in game with the winner advancing to weekend play. Teams will be reseeded with original seeds for the weekend tournament.
Full NEHC Open pairings listed below:
#3 Franklin Pierce (17-16-1) vs. #5 Saint Michael's (4-20-0) – Wed. 2/22 - 8:00pm
*Played at campus of higher seed
#2 Holy Cross (21-4-0) vs. #3 Franklin Pierce - Sat. 2/25 – 1:00pm #1 Saint Anselm (20-2-3) vs. #4 Sacred Heart – Sat. 2/25 – 4:00pm
Sunday, 2/26 – 4:00pm
Consolation Game to be played at 1:00pm
Semifinal and Championship rounds to be played at Sacred Heart.