NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario – Courtney Birchard '11, a former standout on the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team, was named the 2012 Rookie of the Year by the Canadian Women's Hockey League on Wednesday.
Birchard recorded three goals and 13 assists, as well as a plus/minus rating of +13 in 25 games for the Brampton Hockey Club. The defenseman's other stats included two game-winning goals and one power-play goal. Birchard closed the season with a three-point weekend at Alberta in which she recorded two assists in the March 18 regular-season finale. She tallied five points with a +5 rating in the last four games.
Birchard and her Brampton teammates placed third in the CWHL regular-season standings and will face off against the Boston Blades in the opening game of the round robin Clarkson Cup playoffs.
Birchard, who graduated from UNH in May 2011 with a degree in Education, is one of the Wildcats' all-time top point producers among defensemen as she tallied 81 points (34 goals, 47 assists) in 117 games spanning the 2008-11 seasons. The 34 goals are fifth among blue liners and she is 12th on the points list. Birchard ranked third on the 2011 team in both points and goals and tied for third in plus/minus en route to garnering Hockey East First Team All-Star honors for the second consecutive year.
The Mississauga, Ontario native garnered AWCHA All-America Second Team recognition in 2010, when she ranked fifth in the nation in defensemen scoring, 16th in game-winning goals and 17th in power-play goals. Birchard led New Hampshire to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances that included advancement to the Frozen Four in 2008.
During her senior season at UNH, Birchard won a gold medal in two tournaments as a representative of Hockey Canada. In November 2010, she skated for the National Team at the Four Nations Cup and then in January 2011 she competed as a member of the Women's National Under-22 Team at the MLP Cup. Birchard earned a silver medal with Canada's National Women's Team at the 2011 IIHF 8 Nations Women's Tournament in August 2011 and will participate in Canada's upcoming National Women's Team Selection Camp (March 26-April 1).