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UD women's ice hockey club team to compete in ACHA national tournament

After going undefeated in the regular season, the University of Delaware women's ice hockey club team has been invited to compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) women's division national tournament.

The ACHA nationals will be held March 11-14 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minn. The rink is the home of the U.S. Women's Olympic Team and features eight sheets of ice, making it the world's largest ice rink.

The Blue Hens went 12-0-0 during regular season competition in the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference.

ACHA Division II teams in the Eastern and Western regions are ranked four times throughout the year by a committee of five coaches from each region, with the top three teams being invited to nationals.

Holding on to the second spot for all four rankings, UD was offered a bid to the national tournament along with Northeastern University, which finished in first place, and the University of Vermont, which finished in third.

The Hens will arrive in Minnesota on Thursday, March 11, and prepare for games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In their Friday matchup, the Blue Hens will take on the University of Vermont.

On Saturday, Delaware will face-off against the Rainy River Community College Voyageurs of International Falls, Minn. The Voyageurs handed Delaware their second loss in the 2008 national tournament and Delaware is excited for the rematch, according to UD alternate captain Katie Keeports, who remembers the game vividly.

“Rainy River came out firing on all cylinders,” Keeports said. “They are a very strong group of experienced hockey players who know how to pass, cycle, and put the puck in the net. We have a challenge ahead of us, but are working hard in practice to come prepared.”

This is the second time in three years that the Blue Hens have finished undefeated and earned a bid to nationals. Two years ago, a young Delaware team with a rookie goaltender pulled off the unthinkable by topping all local competition, winning the playoffs, and participating in the 2008 ACHA Women's National Tournament.

After a fourth place finish, the team had gotten its first taste of national competition and hungered for more, Keeports said.

Head Coach Sharon Addison said she could not be happier with the outcome of her seventh season with UD. “To earn an invitation to nationals is a tremendous honor,” Addison said. “We're very proud to be ranked number two in the East Region. Competing in this tournament is the reward for along season of hard work and dedication.”

The team is led by a dedicated volunteer coaching staff, including Addison, assistant/defensive coach Bobby Crystle, assistant coach Steve Blasik, assistant coach Bethany Allik and goaltending coach Andrew Corlett.

Senior captain Brittney Sheldon said she is hopeful the team will experience continued success, and is focused on ideals that have kept the team going all season. “I think that communication and positivity are definitely important,” Sheldon said. “More specifically, I think that we need to rely on our goaltending, good defensive back checking, getting shots on net, and crashing the net.”

One of the keys to success will be sophomore goaltender Brieanna Scolaro. During the perfect season, Scolaro posted a 93.7 percent save percentage with an astonishing 1.33 goals against average. She recorded three shutouts and leads the conference in save percentage.

“[Brie] is a player with energy that others can feed off of even in the lowest of situations,” said Corlett.

Other players of note are power goal scorer Erin McAuliffe and rookie defenseman Mari O'Leary.

To learn more about the UD women's ice hockey club team, see the Web site.

To make a contribution to the team, visit the UD Make a Gift site and select Give To then Other and specify Women's Ice Hockey Club.

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