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Breakthrough performance

Laura Hurd left behind a women’s ice hockey legacy for her school and for her game

Laura Hurd led Elmira to a four-year record of 91-17-5, including three trips to the finals and the 2002 and 2003 national championships. ELMIRA COLLEGE PHOTO
When Elmira College made its debut in women’s ice hockey, the program wasn’t the only thing in its first year; all the players except two were freshmen. One of those first-year students, however, became perhaps the best player in Division III women’s ice hockey history, leading the Soaring Eagles to the 2002 national championship.

Elmira finished that season 26-1-1 as it became the only team to win an NCAA championship in its first year of competition. The history didn’t stop there, as that freshman pacing the Eagles finished the season with an NCAA record 40 goals and 77 points.

A native of Kingston, Ontario, Laura Hurd would also help Elmira earn a second consecutive national championship in 2003 on her way to setting eight NCAA Division III records, including most goals (120), assists (117) and points (237).

“For me, I had never seen a kid who could finish like that. She had such a gift around the net,” former Elmira coach Jamie Wood said. “She wasn’t the fastest skater, but she was fast enough. She wasn’t the biggest kid, but she was big enough. She knew exactly where to be and when to be there. It was uncanny.”

Hurd went on to become the first American Hockey Coaches Association All-American from the Division III level and was national player of the year as a senior when Elmira finished as national runner-up.

After graduating in 2005, Hurd stayed in New York and took a job with Corning Inc. Her story ended abruptly a year later when she was killed in a car accident at age 24.

Today, she is memorialized with the Laura Hurd Award, given to the best Division III women’s ice hockey player.

“She was a good player and a good person. I’m sure she could have scored a lot more goals, but she loved getting the puck and setting her teammates up to score,” said Edith Racine, the starting goalie for Elmira and now an assistant coach at Cornell University.

Hurd’s hockey sense was integral to the Soaring Eagles’ first national championship. After a scoreless second period, Hurd took things into her own hands. She shot the puck past two defenders and positioned herself perfectly for the rebound to backhand the game winner 46 seconds into the third period.

“I think for her the stats didn’t really matter,” Wood said. “She was focused on winning and what the team was doing. We wouldn’t have won without her on the ice. She played her best in the big moments.”

Elmira didn’t even have club hockey before starting a varsity program, but Hurd once again led the school to the final in 2003. She opened the scoring with a goal in the first period, but Manhattanville College answered 1:26 into the second period. Less than three minutes later, Hurd found Charissa Gawant for the goal as Elmira scored four unanswered to raise the trophy again.

 “You just don’t find a player that good who is also that good of a leader,” Wood said. “She’s one of the top seven or eight players I’ve ever coached, and that includes Olympians.”

Hurd’s impact on the hockey community has had a lasting influence.

“She always had class, and I can’t think of a more deserving honor for any player,” Wood said. “I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to get to know her. If somebody’s looking for a role model for their young daughter who’s starting hockey, Laura Hurd would be the one person to me who would be a great role model. My first daughter, Maggie Jane Laura Wood, is named after her. That’s how much I thought of her.”

 

Division III all-time leader:

POINTS SCORED

Season

77—Laura Hurd,
Elmira, 2002
(40 goals, 37 assists)

Career

237—Laura Hurd,
Elmira, 2002-05 (120 goals, 117 assists)

 

POINTS SCORED PER GAME

Season

2.75—Laura Hurd,
Elmira, 2002 (77 in 28)

Career

2.15—Laura Hurd,
Elmira, 2002-05 (237 in 110)

 

GOALS SCORED

Season

40—Laura Hurd,
Elmira, 2002 (28 games)

Career

120—Elizabeth Gibson, Plattsburgh St., 2002-05 (108 games); Laura Hurd, Elmira, 2002-05 (110 games)

 

ASSISTS

Career

117—Laura Hurd
Elmira, 2002-05 (110 games)

 

ASSISTS PER GAME

Career

1.06—Laura Hurd
Elmira, 2002-05 (117 in 110)

 

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