By Matt Williams
---- — Swampscott’s Courtney Winters hardly remembers the last time she lost the last hockey game of a season. Everywhere she goes, the talented forward helps her team win.
A junior at St. Anselm College, Winters led the Hawks to their second straight ECAC Open title. Before that, she was a crucial piece of three Division 1 state champions at St. Mary’s of Lynn.
This past season was a breakout campaign for Winters. She led the Hawks in scoring with 43 points and was named an American Hockey Coaches Association Division 3 All-American.
“I’m really honored. Growing up, you see the title All-American and you think its so cool, I never imagined myself being there,” Winters said. “I was really taken back when my coach told me about it.”
St. Anselm is one of the few Division 2 hockey teams in the country. The Hawks play a number of Division 3 teams during the season and are grouped with them for postseason awards, though they can’t compete in the NCAA tournament. Winters finished third nationally in scoring among D2/3 players and was seventh in goals with 22.
The ACHA honored her as an East second team All-American, the only girl from Massachusetts selected.
“To have the coaches think of me that way, and look at the way I play in that light, is a great honor,” said Winters, who led the ECAC East in points and goals while averaging 1.59 points per game.
Winters led the Hawks in goals as a sophomore with 19 and with St. A’s having graduated a number of seniors from a championship team in 2011-12 she wanted to step up her all-around game. Skating with sophomore Tiffany Herron and freshman Alex Kazmer, Winters set new career highs in goals (21), assists (22) and points (43).
“I definitely got comfortable, grew into my role and had a lot of fun,” said Winters. “My linemates made it easy. We clicked right away and it always seemed like we were in the right place at the right time.”
Winters had a goal and an assist in the ECAC Open final win over Holy Cross. She also elevated her game against some of the top teams in Division 3, netting two goals in a win over national runner-up Middlebury and two assists in an overtime win over top-10 Norwich.
Overall, St. A’s went 2-2-1 against teams in final USCHO.com D3 Women’s Top 10, proving they could play with the best teams outside Division 1 nationally.
“It’s a nice feeling to look at the top D3 teams and see that we did well. On the one hand it’s unfortunate that we can’t compete in a national tournament, but we know that coming in and there’s great competition in the ECAC East,” said Winters.
Following up consecutive 20 win seasons with this year’s 19-win campaign was satisfying for Winters and the Hawks.
“We lost eight girls so we didn’t know what to expect. We never thought we’d be bad, but we weren’t sure if we’d be as strong because we were young,” Winters said. “We got great wins over Norwich and Middlebury and went on to have a lot of success.”
While studying at St. A’s, Winters is interning with the nearby Manchester Monarchs, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
“I’m doing marketing, watching the games from the press box and seeing a lot of behind the scenes stuff,” said Winters. “It’s a different atmosphere and a different way to look at the game and I’m having a lot of fun with it.”
At St. Mary’s, Winters was one of the most potent scorers in Massachusetts girls hockey history. She had 125 goals and 109 assists for 234 points (12th all-time in the Bay State as of 2012) and was unbeaten in her last 77 games as a Spartan. She was at the TD Garden a few weeks ago watching her sister, Brooke, win the state title as St. Mary’s back-up goalie.
Winters scoring trend continued in college, where she has 58 goals, 44 assists and 102 points in 79 games over three seasons. Looking forward to her senior year, Winters isn’t concerned with accolades or statistics; she just wants to improve.
“It’ll be my last year so I want to be the best I can be and learn some more things,” she said. “For me, its always been about the love for the sport. I want to have fun out there and hopefully we’ll do as well as we did this year.”