February 29, 2012

Johnston Named Finalist for ECAC Player of the Year

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Just two weeks ago against Clarkson, senior forward Rebecca Johnston’s assist from behind the net to freshman and fellow forward Jillian Saulnier sealed an overtime victory, as well as the ECAC regular season title. Now, Johnston is being recognized for her consistent clutch play throughout the season. On Monday, she was named a finalist for the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year Award.

“It’s a great honor,” Johnston said. “I’m really excited just to be nominated.”

The announcement came just one day after the Red completed a sweep of Brown in the first round of the ECAC tournament. In the series, Johnston scored two goals, leading her team to 4-2 and 6-0 victories over the Bears.

Johnston is at the top of the entire conference with 51 points this season. She also leads her team with 25 goals, including six game-winning ones. The senior forward has 26 assists to go along with her impressive scoring statistics. She has four markers on the power play and has only gone to the penalty box four times this season.

“It’s obvious she brings a high skill level to the ice. She’s an amazing hockey player,” said fellow senior forward Kendice Ogilvie. “But behind the doors she’s also a great leader, and she always steps up when we need her to.”

This is not the first time the ECAC has recognized Johnston for her play. Aside from winning the conference’s Player of the Month in January, Johnston was also the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2008 after scoring 16 goals that season. As a freshman, she led the team in points with 32. She was the first Cornell player ever to win the award, and the first to be named to the ECAC Hockey first team that year. Additionally, Johnston was a top-10 finalist last year for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which is given to college hockey’s best player.

According to Ogilvie, Johnston’s high level of play is a motivating factor for her teammates.

“I think it’s so awesome. It’s a great honor to be on her team,” she said. “I’m making myself a better player by playing with her.”

Besides Johnston, there are two other finalists for the award: Harvard’s Jillian Dempsey and Clarkson’s Erica Howe. Howe gave the Red some trouble this season as Clarkson’s goalkeeper, saving a total of 48 shots by the Red offense in two matchups. Johnston, however, did get one by Howe in the first meeting between the two teams. In that game, Clarkson defeated the Red for one of the team’s three losses this year.

The final winner of the award will be announced Thursday at a banquet in the Statler Hotel. The following day, the Red will take to the ice again to face Quinnipiac in the ECAC semifinals. In two games against the Bobcats earlier in the season, the Red won handily, scoring a combined 11 goals and only giving up two. Johnston tallied a goal in the team’s first win over Quinnipiac.

Despite her continued success, Johnston remains modest, concentrating more on the important game this weekend than on her award.

“It’s something I try not to focus too much on,” she said.

Original Author: Scott Chiusano