Superior, Wis. – Two Gustavus Adolphus women’s hockey players were honored as members of the 2013 CCM Division III Women’s Hockey All-America Team on Thursday night at the NCAA Championship banquet. Seniors Lindsey Hjelm (Sr., North Oaks, Minn.) and Kelsey Kennedy (Sr., Eagan, Minn.) were two of six players to receive the award who are competing in NCAA Championship weekend, set to kick off tomorrow afternoon. Hjelm represented Gustavus on the West First Team while Kennedy landed on the West Second Team.
This year’s All-America Teams feature players that hail from nine states, three Canadian provinces, and three different countries. Minnesota placed the most members on the squads with six players that call the Land of 10,000 Lakes home, including five on the West All-American Teams. The CCM Hockey All-American Ice Hockey Teams are chosen by members of the American Hockey Coaches Association. This is the second year that a West Second Team has been selected.
Lindsey Hjelm was named to her second consecutive West First Team after receiving the honor last season. Of the 24 honorees on this year’s All-America squad, Hjelm is one of nine players to be recognized multiple times in their career, and one of seven players to receive First Team distinction more than once. The senior captain has been the model of versatility so far this season. After beginning the year as a defender for the Black and Gold, Hjelm made the switch to forward midway through the year at the holiday break. Hjelm’s impact was felt immediately on the offensive end. She scored 11 points in her first seven games on Gustavus’s top line and played an intricate role in increased offensive production for the Gusties.
“I’m very happy for Lindsey,” beamed Head Coach Mike Carroll. “She has had a tremendous senior season and to be named an All-American for the second straight year is truly deserving. Although I was worried that moving her from defense to forward this season might hurt her chances to win such an award, Lindsey’s versatility put that worry to rest quickly. She’s the heart and soul of our team and I’m very proud of her accomplishment tonight.”
For the season, Hjelm has amassed 28 points on 13 goals and 15 assists. Those marks ranked third, sixth, and third, respectively, in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), which led her to being named the MIAC’s Player-of-the-Year. In addition to being awarded the top individual honor in the league, Hjelm was also named to her fourth straight MIAC All-Conference Team. To top it all off, Hjelm – already the program’s leader in penalty minutes – is tied for the most career games played in Gustavus women’s hockey history with 118 and will break that record with an appearance in tomorrow’s semifinal contest against Elmira.
As is her custom, Hjelm was quick to deflect any chance to talk about herself. When asked about the honor, Hjelm instead mentioned the experience of receiving such an accolade with her teammate, Kelsey Kennedy. “It’s really special to have a fellow Gustavus teammate on the All-American team,” she stated. ”I think the whole idea of seeing Kelsey’s name up on the screen just got me so excited about being apart of the honor because not only is it a really special award, but it is even more special to have a teammate next to you. It is humbling to receive it and it is truly a blessing be recognized with so many great players.”
Kelsey Kennedy makes her first career appearance on the All-America Team after landing on the West Second Team. A testament of hard work and consistency, Kennedy has anchored a Gustie defense that ranks third in all of NCAA Division III women’s hockey after giving up 32 goals in 28 games so far this season for an average of 1.14 goals allowed per game. In fact, Gustavus has given up just eight goals with their blue line leader on the ice. Her plus/minus mark of +16 this season has added to her career total, which now measures an impressive +70.
“It was definitely a shock,” described Kennedy. “I had no idea it was coming and this is definitely a great honor. When you put four years of effort and dedication into something, it is a special feeling to be rewarded.”
Kennedy has amassed one goal to go along with six assists for seven points on the season. In her career, the senior has racked up four goals and 45 assists for a total of 49 points, including a 22-assist, 23-point effort a season ago. Kelsey has played in 115 career games, including all ten NCAA Tournament games.
“Kelsey has a lot of big game experience and has logged a great amount of minutes on the ice over her career,” explained Carroll. “She’s been our rock on the blue line and is very deserving of All-America accolades. Kelsey understands the game, sees the ice as well as anyone, and is a gifted skater who will go down as one of the top defenders to play at Gustavus.”
Kennedy becomes the 13th player in Gustavus women’s hockey history to garner All-America status. Hjelm became the 12th Gustie to earn the title last season.
The Gusties will be in action tomorrow night, Friday, March 15th, in the semifinal round of NCAA Championship weekend when they take on the Soaring Eagles of Elmira College at 7:00 p.m. in Wessman Arena on the campus of UW-Superior.