Senior forward Julie Fortier (Saint-Malachie, Quebec) of the Norwich University women’s ice hockey team has been chosen by the nation’s coaches as the winner of the 2012 Laura Hurd Award, which is awarded annually to the nation’s best Division III women’s ice hockey player.

Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Director of Sport Administration Michael Letzeisen made the announcement as part of the 2012 NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship banquet on Thursday evening at the Rochester Airport Marriott Hotel Conference Center.

Winning the most prestigious award in D-III women’s hockey adds to what has already been a sensational final season for Fortier at Norwich, as she has smashed single-season and all-time program records throughout the course of the year.

“It feels pretty good and I’m very happy,” Fortier said on winning the Hurd Award. “I think it’s a nice way to finish my senior year. But, there’s still one thing missing, and that’s winning a national championship again. That’s been our goal the whole year, so I’m looking forward to this weekend.”

The Cadets will continue their 2011 National Championship title defense on Friday night at 7 p.m. when they take on Gustavus Adolphus in the NCAA semifinals for the second straight year.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my career than being back here in the final four though,” Fortier said. “Now it’s up to us to do what it takes to win. It’s just a bonus I think to win those awards. It’s a lot easier to do when you have a great team behind you.”

Fortier is the first player in program history to win the Hurd Award. Sophie Leclerc was a finalist last year, but ended up being the runner-up to RIT’s Sarah Dagg. Fortier has been breaking Leclerc’s records for most of the 2011-12 season.

She leads all of Division III in scoring with 30 goals and 23 assists for 53 points. Her 30 goals have already set a new program single-season record, eclipsing Leclerc’s previous high of 26. Her total also ties her for 14th on the all-time NCAA D-III single-season goals-scored list.

“It’s a fantastic honor for our program to have Julie win the Hurd Award for the first time in our program’s short history,” Norwich coach Mark Bolding said. “I think definitely she was no question the best player in the country this year, and we hope she can continue it for two more games.”

Fortier also broke Leclerc’s all-time career points record of 163 on February 17 against Salve Regina with an assist on the Cadets’ first goal in a 6-0 win over the Seahawks. She currently had 92 goals and 81 assists for 173 points, which ranks her eighth on the all-time NCAA D-III career points list. She is four points away from tying Manhattanville’s Cherie Stewart and Plattsburgh’s Danielle Blanchard for sixth.

Fortier winning the Hurd topped off an impressive night for the Norwich women, which included three other players along with Fortier being named CCM East Region All-Americans, as well as Bolding earning his third straight National Coach of the Year Award.

“I’m very proud and happy for my teammates that they got recognized as well,” Fortier said. “I think they deserve it. We didn’t get many awards last year, and I think Sophie got screwed a little bit on the Hurd Award.”

The three other finalists for the award were Gustavus Adolphus senior forward Allie Schwab, Amherst junior defenseman Geneva Lloyd, and Wisconsin-Superior freshman forward Dani Schultz. All three were named their respective conference’s Player of the Year. Schwab finished as the runner-up for the Award.

In January 2007, the AHCA voted to rename the Division III Women’s Player of the Year after Hurd, who was the recipient in 2005, to honor her legacy and impact on the women’s Division III hockey world after she passed away in an automobile accident in the summer of 2006.

Laura Hurd Award Winners
2000 – Sylvia Ryan, Middlebury College
2001 – Michelle Labbe, Middlebury College
2002 – Sarah Moe, Gustavus Adolphus
2003 – Angela Kapus, Middlebury College
2004 – Molly Wasserman, Williams College
2005 – Laura Hurd, Elmira College
2006 – Emily Quizon, Middlebury College
2007 – Andrea Peterson, Gustavus Adolphus
2008 – Danielle Blanchard, Plattsburgh State
2009 – Kayla Coady, Elmira College
2010 – Isabel Iwachiw, Trinity College
2011 – Sarah Dagg, Rochester Inst. of Tech.
2012 – Julie Fortier, Norwich University