25 Greatest Moments in 2012 Women's Hockey

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IIJanuary 2, 2013

25 Greatest Moments in 2012 Women's Hockey

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    As the sport of women’s ice hockey continues to grow, the year 2012 featured many historic moments. Although there are many more great moments to come in 2013, the events of 2012 serve as a fantastic foundation upon which to build great memories in the future.

    Many legendary players found themselves thrust into a long overdue spotlight. The IIHF Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont served as the backdrop for two such players. Florence Schelling lead Switzerland to an IIHF bronze, and Caroline Ouellette scored the biggest goal of her career, as she scored the gold medal clinching goal in overtime for Canada.

    It was also a year in which to root for the underdog. The NCAA postseason found national powerhouses Cornell and Mercyhurst upset in the postseason. One of the most inspiring underdogs was the amazing Ashley Gilbank. The women’s hockey coach valiantly rollerbladed across Canada for mental health research.

    The year ended on a tremendous note as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League entered into a landmark sponsorship agreement with the CWHL’s Toronto Furies and Team Alberta hockey clubs, respectively. The agreement would be commemorated with a match at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.

Hon. Mention: Buckeyes Grab Program Win No. 200 as Part of Historic Weekend

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    On October 26, 2012, the Buckeyes earned the 200th win in program history, with a triumphant 4-1 win over the Bemidji State Beavers. The following day (once more against the Beavers), the Buckeyes set a program record for most goals in one game with 10.

Hon. Mention: Women’s Hockey Coach Ashley Gilbank Skates Across Canada for DIFD

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    In tribute to a fallen friend who lost her life due to suicide, women’s hockey coach Ashley Gilbank decided to rollerblade across Canada.

    Calling her journey Skate4Life, Gilbank donated the proceeds of her cross country journey to Do It for Daron (the foundation that recognizes the life of Daron Richardson, daughter of former NHL defender Luke Richardson and sister of Cornell defender Morgan Richardson).

    Gilbank began her cross country journey in June 2012. By October 2012, she had finished her cross country trek, raising close to $10,000 for the foundation.

Hon. Mention: Team Ontario Blue Grabs First Canadian U18 Gold

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    The EnCana Events Centre in Dawson Creek, British Columbia played host to Canadian women’s hockey history. With Team Ontario Red entering the 2012 Canadian Under-18 National Championships as the defending gold medalists, no one expected Team Ontario Blue (which finished in fifth place at the 2011 edition) to compete.

    In the history of the Canadian Under-18 Nationals, Team Ontario Blue (Ontario is allowed to ice two hockey teams for the event) only appeared in the gold medal game once, a loss in 2009 to Team Ontario Red.

    Playing against Manitoba, the game was a back-and-forth affair during the first two periods, as the score was tied at two goals apiece. Whitby Wolves player Krista Yip-Chuck would tie the score at 2 (with an assist going to Ottawa resident Rebecca Leslie).

    Hailey Noronha (another star from the Wolves) would log the game winning score, as Toronto Jr. Aeros player Victoria Andreakos logged the assist. Brooke Webster (another Jr. Aeros player) would gain an empty net goal to ice the game at 4-2. Brittany Smrke (a goaltender for Stoney Creek in the PWHL) made 29 saves, and Paige Horton of the London Jr. Devilettes was named as Team Ontario Blue’s Player of the Game.

Hon. Mention: Bram Sisters Represent Canada at the Meco Cup

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    While the United States feature the Lamoureux sisters (Jocelyne and Monique), the Canadian Under-22 squad had the Bram sisters for the 2012 Meco Cup. Having played together during the 2011-12 Mercyhurst Lakers season, Bailey and Shelby Bram had the opportunity to represent Canada together. While both had played for the Canadian Under-18 teams in separate years, the 2012 Meco Cup marked their first opportunity to don the Maple Leaf as teammates. The sisters contributed to a bronze medal performance.

Hon. Mention: Babstock Becomes First to 100 Points in Quinnipiac History

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    On October 12, 2012, Kelly Babstock continued to stake her claim as the greatest Quinnipiac player ever. In only the 75th game of her career with the program, she reached the century mark in a tie vs. nationally ranked Mercyhurst.

Hon. Mention: Alex Rigsby Becomes Fastest to 60 Career Wins

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    While the pressure of inheriting the starting goaltender position from record-setting backstop Jessie Vetter would have been difficult for any goaltender, Alex Rigsby has accepted the position and excelled. Also hailing from the state of Wisconsin, the homegrown talent has made her own history with the Wisconsin Badgers program.

    At the end of the 2011-12 season, Rigsby had accomplished something no other goaltender (including the legendary Vetter) ever had; she won 60 games in the first two seasons of her career. Despite losing the 2012 Frozen Four championship to goaltending rival Noora Räty and the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Rigsby carved a unique place in NCAA history by becoming the fastest to get 60 career victories.  

25: Aleca Hughes Wins the Hockey Humanitarian Award

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    One of the great role models in NCAA women’s hockey, Aleca Hughes (the 31st captain in Yale Bulldogs women’s hockey history) was recognized for her hard work concerning charitable causes. In 2011, she tried to find a bone marrow donor for terminally ill Yale teammate Mandi Schwartz. Despite the loss of Schwartz, Hughes helped organize charitable drives in the memory of Schwartz, who was her linemate in her freshman season.

    Hughes organized the White Out for Mandi Fundraiser at Yale. She also worked with Athletes in Action, a group of Christian athletes involved in community service.

    In addition to her Hockey Humanitarian Award in 2012, she was the first Ivy League athlete to win the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, presented to athletes for character and leadership on and off the field, and for their contributions in sport and society. Hughes would also add the Bingham Cup (a Yale award recognizing leadership) later on.

24: Toronto Furies and Brampton Compete in World Girls Hockey Day Exhibition

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    In celebration of World Girls' Hockey Day, the community of Waterloo, Ontario (located southwest of Toronto), held an event that featured two former Winter Games gold medalists. Becky Kellar and Cheryl Pounder (who were teammates at the 2006 Turin Winter Games), were present for on-ice clinics, along with autograph sessions.

    Later in the day, an exhibition match with the Toronto Furies and the Brampton Thunder delighted the Waterloo fans. Catherine White scored the first goal of the game. Of note, it was her first career CWHL goal in her first ever game with Toronto. With the Furies taking a 5-0 lead in the first period, they would go on to win by an 8-1 tally. Despite the lopsided score, the fans in Waterloo witnessed a venerable who’s who of women’s hockey, as both CWHL squads featured several players that have competed for the Canadian National Women’s Team.

23: Marie-Philip Poulin Claims Career Point No. 100 with BU Terriers

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    A road contest vs. the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on December 8 led to Marie-Philip Poulin continuing to build her legend. Poulin would assist on two goals to earn career points 99 and 100, respectively. In her third season with the Boston University Terriers, the junior became the fastest skater to reach the century mark with the program. Poulin hit career point 100 in only the 75th game of her storied career.

22: Melodie Daoust Does Not Disappoint as She Claims CIS Rookie of the Year

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    The most highly-touted recruit of the 2011-12 CIS season, Melodie Daoust, did not disappoint. The prodigy refused a scholarship from the Boston University Terriers to stay home in Montreal and compete with world-renowned McGill University. As the winner of the 2012 CIS Rookie of the Year Award, Daoust justified the faith that McGill showed in her, while establishing herself as the next great player to join the Martlets program.

    Daoust became the fourth Martlets player in six years to capture the CIS Rookie of the Year Award. The others were Catherine Ward (2007), Ann-Sophie Bettez (2008), and Marie-Andrée Leclerc Auger (2009). In addition to the Rookie of the Year Award, she was named to the RSEQ All-Star Team, while being named a CIS Second Team All-Canadian.

    She won her conference scoring title by logging 43 points in 18 contests. Her 43 points ranked third in the CIS, while her 2.39 points per game ranked first overall. Her 25 assists were second in CIS, while her 18 goals were good enough to rank fifth in the nation. Of her 18 goals, three scores would stand as game-winning tallies.

21: Spooner and MacIntosh Finish Ohio State Careers on Record-Breaking Note

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    Having played together at the 2007 Canada Winter Games, at the 2008 IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds, and with the Ohio State Buckeyes of the NCAA, it was only fitting that Natalie Spooner and Laura McIntosh would finish their senior seasons re-writing the Ohio State record books. McIntosh would graduate as the Buckeyes all-time points leader (she broke the record in a February 4 match vs. Minnesota Duluth), while Spooner was the program’s all-time leading goal scorer.

20: Schelling Leads Switzerland to Its First Ever IIHF Bronze

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    Having established herself as one of the elite goaltenders in the world, Florence Schelling led Switzerland to a historic finish at the 2012 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships in Burlington, Vermont. With countries like Finland, Sweden, and Russia aiming for a bronze medal, Switzerland (despite fourth place finishes in past events) was still seen as a developing team. Through the confidence that the Swiss gained with the superlative Schelling between the pipes, the Swiss returned to the bronze medal game.

    Competing against Finland, the game boasted the two greatest goaltenders from Europe: Schelling and Noora Räty. Despite Finland taking an early lead, Schelling was the stabilizing factor as she made 50 saves in the win. Switzerland captured the bronze, the first in the country’s history. 

19: Maschmeyer Shuts out US in Gold Medal at 2012 IIHF U18 Worlds

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    In the eternal rivalry between Canada and the United States, the level of talent has raised the stakes at the Under-18 IIHF Women’s Worlds. With the United States having claimed three of the first four gold medals (2008, 2009, 2011) in the history of the event, Canada was determined to claim the gold for 2012. With long-time Erin Ambrose competing for the Canadian Under-18 program for the last time, the gold medal game match against the United States carried with it lots of emotion. Goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer delivered the goods with a 2-0 shutout of the highly talented United States squad.

18: North Dakota Fighting Sioux Qualify for First Ever NCAA Tournament

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    A great moment of validation for the Lamoureux Twins occurred when the Fighting Sioux were selected to compete in the NCAA Tournament. Having turned around the moribund program, the Lamoureux Twins have made Grand Forks, North Dakota one of the hockey hotbeds for NCAA women’s hockey.

    In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Fighting Sioux faced their WCHA rival, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Despite a 5-1 loss, North Dakota had a memorable season, upon which greater memories will be built.

17: Noora Räty Becomes Minnesota’s Winningest Goaltender

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    An October 27 victory vs. North Dakota cemented Noora Räty’s legacy as the greatest goaltender in Minnesota Golden Gophers history. Räty broke the Golden Gophers record for most wins by a goaltender.

16: Erin Ambrose of Toronto Jr. Aeros Sets New PWHL Mark

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    Emerging as one of the premier developmental leagues for women’s hockey in North America, the Provincial Women’s Hockey League has been home to some of the most promising stars of the future. Erin Ambrose (captain of Canada’s Under-18 team in 2012) participated with the Toronto Jr. Aeros during the 2011-12 PWHL season. She would break Laura Fortino's mark for most points by a defender in PWHL history.  

15: Minnesota Upsets Wisconsin in NCAA Frozen Four

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    In looking to capture their second consecutive Frozen Four title, the top-ranked Wisconsin Badgers ran into their WCHA rivals, the Minnesota Golden Gophers. In capturing the WCHA Postseason crown again, the Golden Gophers proved it was not a fluke.

    Ironically, the March 18 contest was played at AMSOIL Arena, the home of their arch rival (and host school), the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. In the first period, Minnesota took a 3-2 lead with goals from Amanda Kessel, Sarah Erickson, and Emily West. The two scores by Wisconsin were registered by Stefanie McKeough and Brooke Ammerman.

    After a scoreless second period, Sarah Erickson buried the puck past Badgers backstop Alex Rigsby at the 3:57 mark of the final period. In the 4-2 win for the Golden Gophers, Noora Räty made an amazing 42 saves. Her counterpart, Alex Rigsby only faced 21 Golden Gophers shots.

14: Hilary Pattenden Becomes NCAA’s Winningest Goalie

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    Upon Jessie Vetter’s graduation from the Wisconsin Badgers in 2009, her records seemed unbreakable. Heading into the 2011-12 season, there was a chance that Hillary Pattenden could surpass Vetter, but it would take a great season. Competing with the Mercyhurst Lakers, the squad faced the losses of Meghan Agosta, Vicki Bendus, and Jesse Scanzano to the CWHL Draft. Despite the immense loss of remarkable star power, Pattenden persevered and led Mercyhurst to another CHA regular season title, while breaking Vetter’s remarkable record.

13: Florence Schelling and Geneviève Lacasse Play to Scoreless Tie

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    On the Providence Friars senior night (February 17, 2012), Geneviève Lacasse (the greatest backstop in Friars history) and her rival, Florence Schelling (of the Northeastern Huskies), provided the fans with a superlative goaltending display. As their four-year rivalry reached its pinnacle, the two made a combined 80 saves through three periods and overtime. With both goaltenders having re-written their respective program’s record books, it was only fitting that the two played to a scoreless tie.

12: RIT Tigers Win Championship in Final NCAA Division III Contest

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    As one of the signature programs of NCAA Division III women’s hockey, it was fitting that their final contest came at the championship level. Their final season in NCAA Division III found the Tigers accumulating a sparkling 28-1-1 won-loss mark, a Div. III record.

    The NCAA Division III Frozen Four was contested on March 17, 2012, and it marked the third time that the Tigers competed in the NCAA Tournament. In their run to the national title, the victories did not come without their share of dramatics.

    Kolbee McCrea scored a hat trick in the NCAA Quarterfinal win against Concordia. During the contest, her ponytail was skated over. An overtime win in the semifinals against Plattsburgh State (in which Lindsay Grigg scored the game-winning goal) led the Tigers to the national championship game. Kourtney Kunichika contributed four points as the Tigers defeated Norwich by a 4-1 score.  

    While the Tigers ironically won their first Division III title in their final contest, their legacy as one of the signature programs of Div. III is undisputed. The squad would be awarded the key to the city of Rochester on March 30. Having been promoted to NCAA Division I, the Tigers currently compete in the College Hockey America conference.

11: USA Upsets Undefeated Canadians to Win Second Straight Four Nations Cup

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    In what continues to be one of the most intense rivalries in all of sports, the Canadian and American national women’s ice hockey teams squared off in the gold medal game of the 2012 Four Nations Cup. While the undefeated Canadians were looking to avenge their loss in the 2011 final, US backstop Jessie Vetter had other plans.

10: Montreal Stars Become First Team to Win Consecutive Clarkson Cups

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    Although the Montreal Stars became the first franchise in women’s hockey history to claim the Clarkson Cup in consecutive years, the true feel good story was Jenny Lavigne. With Kim St. Pierre on maternity leave, Jenny Lavigne stood between the pipes during the Stars magical run. After many years in a backup capacity, Lavigne had her time to shine and proved that she was a prime-time goaltender.

9: Jayna Hefford Logs 150th International Goal in Storied Career for Canada

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    During the round robin portion of the 2012 Four Nations Cup, Jayna Hefford solidified her reputation as one of the greatest snipers in the history of women’s hockey. The fans at Kerava Arena in Finland witnessed the living legend from Kingston, Ontario log the 150th international goal of her storied career for Canada. In a November 6 game against Finland, Hefford scored on All-World Goaltender Florence Schelling for the historic goal. 

8: Canada Comes Back from 4-3 Deficit to Claim IIHF Gold

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    The 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont featured a visceral matchup in the gold medal final on April 14. With the United States having defeated Canada in the round robin, the Americans wanted to claim the gold medal on home soil. Heading into the final minutes of the third period, the US held on to a 4-3 lead.

    Meghan Agosta would force overtime as she scored for Canada. In the overtime frame, Caroline Ouellette would score the game-winning goal as Canada pulled off one of the more dramatic comebacks in IIHF Women’s Hockey history.

7: Meghan Agosta Breaks CWHL Scoring Record

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    In three of the last four CWHL seasons, the single season scoring record has been broken. After Meghan Agosta’s record-setting performance, the record may not be broken for many seasons to come. Agosta shattered the former mark of 70 (set by Caroline Ouellette) with an 87-point performance. In addition, the 87 points set the standard for most points by a rookie in one season.

6: Dinos Defeat Carabins in CIS Women’s Hockey Final

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    When the Calgary Dinos recruited Hayley Wickenheiser, the world’s greatest women’s hockey player, the objective was to claim a national championship.

    The Dinos also recruited Russian national team member Iya Gavrilova in autumn 2011, and a new arena (part of a philanthropic gift by longtime hockey supporter Joan Snyder) indicated that the stars were aligned for great things in Calgary.

    With all the tools in place, Wickenheiser led the Dinos to the 2012 national championship game vs. the upstart Montreal Carabins and solidified her legacey as the world's greatest woman's ice hockey player.  Powered by a superlative performance between the pipes by goaltender Amanda Tapp, the Dinos bested the determined Carabins 5-1 on March 11 to claim their first ever national title.

    Of note, Wickenheiser logged two goals in the win, including the game winner. She joins McGill alumni Charline Labonte and Catherine Ward as players with a Winter Games gold medal, IIHF World Gold, and a CIS National Championship.

5: Carmen MacDonald Upsets Cornell in the ECAC Postseason Title

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    Having helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2010 IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds, Carmen MacDonald established herself as a big money player with her upset of Cornell in the 2012 ECAC Postseason Tournament. With a star studded team that featured Rebecca Johnston, Catherine White, Brianne Jenner and Jillian Saulnier, the Cornell squad were heavy favorites. In a March 3 contest, MacDonald showed tremendous grace under pressure as she backstopped the Skating Saints to one of the biggest postseason upsets in ECAC history. 

4: Robert Morris Snaps Mercyhurst’s Stranglehold on the CHA Postseason Tourney

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    After years of being one of the losingest teams in College Hockey America, years of smart recruiting paid off for the Robert Morris Colonials in 2012. Led by CHA Rookie of the Year Rebecca Vint, the Colonials pulled off a dramatic upset of the Mercyhurst Lakers in the CHA championship game. Prior to the loss, the Lakers had won every postseason title in CHA history.  Kristen DiCiocco stood between the pipes for Robert Morris, and she would be named Tournament MVP as the Colonials made CHA history.

3: A Star Is Born: Hannah Brandt Helps Minnesota to a 20-0 Start

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    The winner of the 2012 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award, Hannah Brandt was one of the premier prospects in NCAA hockey. Having committed to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, she did not disappoint.

    With a hat trick in her first NCAA game (a win over the Colgate Raiders), the display of Hannah Brandt’s unbelievable hockey gifts proved that fans were witnessing the beginning of something special. Not since Meghan Agosta joined Mercyhurst in 2006 has a freshman captivated hockey fans. With 48 points in the first half of the 2012-13 season, Brandt helped lead the Golden Gophers to an incredible 20-0 start, while extending their winning streak to 28 games.

2: Tessa Bonhomme Makes the Cover of the Hockey News

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    As the most popular female ice hockey player in Canada (and quite possibly, the world), Tessa Bonhomme would adorn the cover of The Hockey News Women’s Issue. The Toronto Furies captain (and its franchise player) also contributes to LeafsTV as a correspondent and was part of the NHL 2012 All-Star Game festivities in Ottawa, Ontario. As a rebuttal to the NHL lockout, The Hockey News devoted an edition to the women’s game, and the late October release featured  Tessa Bonhomme, along with Meghan Agosta, on the cover. The most popular player in the CWHL, Bonhomme has quickly emerged as a household name in women’s hockey.

1: Toronto and Calgary Provide Assistance to CWHL

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    As the NHL lockout drags on, the one highlight was the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames agreeing to provide sponsorship to the CWHL’s Toronto and Alberta franchises. The agreement calls for each franchise to receive $150,000 over five years. To commemorate the event, the Air Canada Centre hosted a CWHL hockey contest between the Toronto Furies and Team Alberta on November 17. The Furies prevailed by a 3-0 score with Britni Smith logging the first CWHL goal in an NHL arena. In addition, goaltender Christina Kessler earned the first CWHL shutout in an NHL arena.