A couple of Newfoundlanders playing for Saint Mary’s University have received end-of-the season honours in the Atlantic University Sports women’s hockey conference.
Dunville native and Huskies forward Nicole Blanche was named the conference’s top defensive player for a second consecutive season. In fact, the fifth-year commerce student is the only winner of the award because it was established in 2016-17.
It’s given to a skater who consistently excels in defensive aspects of the game and displays strong play in all areas of the ice individually and also as part of her team's defensive tactics. Criteria used include face-off success, blocked shots, forechecking, rush-zone defending, penalty killing and the ability to shut down opponents’ top players.
Blanche finished the season with 21 points, on 10 goals and 11 assists, and a plus-minus rating of plus-13 for the Huskies, who finished with a 20-3-1 record, just a single point behind the St. Francis Xavier X-Women.
Blanche’s teammate, Laura Horwood of Grand Falls-Windsor, was named to the AUS all-rookie team.
Horwood, who is also a forward, had seven goals, two assists and a plus-three rating in her first AUS season. She also led the Huskies with three power-play markers,
The awards announcements came on the eve of the start of the 2018 AUS women’s hockey playoff semifinals.
One best-of-three series begins in Antigonish, N.S., where the top-seeded X-Women, whose lineup includes forward and Dunville native Brooke Noseworthy, host the Universite de Moncton. The other gets underway in Halifax, where the second-seeded Huskies take on the St. Thomas Tommies, whose lineup includes goaltender Abby Clarke of Springdale.