Lauren Sullivan Becomes First Goaltender to Register for 2013 CWHL Draft

Mark StaffieriContributor IIMay 29, 2013

Sullivan in action against the RIT Tigers in their Pink at the Rink event. (Image by Foster Snell Photography)
Sullivan in action against the RIT Tigers in their Pink at the Rink event. (Image by Foster Snell Photography)

Having registered as the first goaltender available in the 2013 CWHL Draft, Lauren Sullivan is looking to extend her career on the remarkable momentum she had competing at the NCAA Division III level. Hailing from Toronto, she competed with Markham-Stouffville in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League.

Statistically, Sullivan accumulated some impressive numbers in her collegiate career. The lowest save percentage of her career was .925 percent, while her highest goals-against-average was 1.67 (both in 2011-12). Of note, she accumulated an astounding 49 wins, compared to only 17 losses and five ties in her career at Elmira College in New York State.  

She left the Soaring Eagles program at Elmira as the all-time leader in numerous goaltending categories. In addition, Sullivan also enjoyed academic success. As intelligent as she is talented, Sullivan was also a member of the ECAC West All-Academic Team.

Entering the 2013 NCAA Division III Frozen Four tournament as the lowest ranked seed, Sullivan played with a remarkable determination. In the opening match, Sullivan helped the Soaring Eagles defeat the previously undefeated Gustavus Adolphus squad by a 4-3 tally in overtime. She would face 41 shots in the contest.

The final game of her career was written in true storybook fashion. In playing for the NCAA Division III Women’s Frozen Four championships, Sullivan would log a shutout in a 1-0 nail biting finish. Contested on March 16, 2013, Sullivan was a key factor as she blanked the Middlebury Panthers.

In the first period of the championship game, she displayed remarkable poise as she nullified three Panther power plays. While Taylor Steadman would slip the puck past Panther goaltender Annabelle Jones in the second stanza, it was Sullivan that provided the heroics throughout the contest.

She would nullify another power play in the second and register 30 saves by game’s end as Elmira clinched their third title in program history. With the victory, Sullivan would earn the 11th shutout of her storied career. In addition, she would tie Elmira’s program record with 22 career shutouts. For her efforts, she was named to the All-Tournament Team.

After the championship victory, the honors continued to pour on. She was not only recognized as the Women’s Hockey Most Valuable Player, but she was also named the Elmira College Female Athlete of the Year, respectively. Along with her team (who would finish their season with a 24-5-1 mark), she would be honored by the City of Elmira and the New York State Legislature in May 2013. The ceremony also included the distribution of their championship rings.

With several NCAA Division III players such as Sarah Moe and Sarah Dagg (former Laura Hurd award winner) competing in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Sullivan’s career reinforces the message that there are quality draft prospects from Division III. As Moe and Dagg both compete with the Brampton Thunder, it would come as no surprise if Sullivan ended up there.

Facing the departure of Florence Schelling to Switzerland (in preparation of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games), Brampton’s goaltending situation is dire. Although Liz Knox is a very talented goaltender, Schelling added much needed depth to the position.

The arrival of Sullivan (who grew up in York Region, north of Toronto) would provide Brampton with a much more stable situation between the pipes. As their cross-town rivals, the Toronto Furies boast three top quality goaltenders (Christina Kessler and Sami Jo Small both played with the Canadian national team, while Erika Vanderveer set several goaltending records at Ohio State), it is vital for Brampton to upgrade their goaltending situation.

Although Brampton acquired three goaltenders last spring (Allison Cubberly and Brianne McLauhglin were selected in the 2012 CWHL Dispersal Draft, while Cornell’s Amanda Mazzotta was picked in the 2012 CWHL Draft), not one suited up for the franchise.

The Frozen Four victory has shown that Sullivan is capable of big game situations and can handle pressure. Her courageous and tireless performances might help ease the loss of Schelling, while providing the type of play that has made Brampton a consistent playoff contender.