With the season at a close, it's time to take a look at the best of NC Women's Hockey in 2016-17. This was a strong year for rookies, featuring players from all three positions.
Check out our list of the premier first-year players and vote for which you think deserves to be the Fan Choice Newcomer of the Year in the poll at the bottom of the page. The voting closes Tuesday, March 14 at noon Pacific, so be sure to get your vote in on time!
Jaycee Gebhard, F – Robert Morris
2016 Stats: 22 goals, 23 assists
Due in large part to the emergence of this freshman phenom, Robert Morris improved considerably this season compared to seasons previous. With a 24-4-6 record, the Colonials mostly recently bested Syracuse for the College Hockey America title and will face first-ranked Wisconsin in the first round of the upcoming NCAA Championships.
At the fore of the team this season was Gebhard, whose 22 goals in 34 games led the Colonials, and she ranked second in points with 46. Her plus/minus of 20 also led the group. In power-play goals, Gebhard led the entire nation with nine.
The Colonials are hopeful that Gebhard’s talents will be enough to lead them over the Badgers to perhaps finally take home a national title, but Robert Morris will have plenty more chances with this budding superstar in their ranks.
Carly Bullock, F – Princeton
2016 Stats: 20 goals, 10 assists
The Tigers had another impressive season this year, entering the postseason with 20 wins under their belt. A strong rookie presence helped this team power its way to ninth in the nation.
In her first 33 games as a collegiate hockey player, Bullock nearly tallied a point-per-game with 30 on the season. The forward ranked fourth on her team in points scored, and second in goals. Most impressive were her statistics on the power-play. Bullock found the bak of the net six times in man-advantage opportunities, which was good enough for fifth in the nation.
Thanks to her impressive season, Bullock was named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year. She was also named to the All-Rookie Team as a forward. Can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next season.
Steph Neatby, G – Princeton
2016 Stats: 12-5-1, .950 save percentage, 1.516 GAA
In addition to first-year offensive contributors, Princeton also received strong rookie play from first-year goaltender Neatby. In 19 games played, Neatby earned 12 wins, making 566 saves for a .950 save percentage and the fourth-best goals-against average in the nation.
Neatby’s best performance this season came in a losing effort versus Quinnipiac in which she stopped a career-high 60 shots. The freshman powerhouse’s only game with a save percentage of less than .940 came in just her second outing, in a contest at Boston University. Her goals-against average has climbed above 2.00 only once as well.
Next year, Neatby will surely see more ice time, and we’ll get a chance to see this star continue to rise.
Kristin O’Neill, F – Cornell
2016 Stats: 14 goals, 12 assists
O’Neill helped lead Cornell to its first season winning more than 20 games since 2013-14 with a fantastic rookie debut. The freshman ranked second on her team in points tallied with 26 in 31 games. Her 14 goals led the Big Red.
The diminutive forward stands at just 5’4” but her impact has been much bigger. In her second collegiate appearance, O’Neill lit the lamp twice to propel her team to a 2-1 win over Mercyhurst, and she hasn’t slowed down since then.
Whitney Dove, D – Providence
2016 Stats: 5 goals, 18 assists
In the four games that Dove has lit the lamp this season, her team is 4-0-0. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much impact this player has on the ice.
Hockey East’s Rookie of the Year ranked fifth on her team in points scored this season with 23, and tied for third-most points by a defenseman in the league.
Though the Friars didn’t have the best season of in program history, they are poised to break out, and it all hinges on this unanimously-selected All-Rookie Team selection.