The CWHL announced its finalists for the 2019 Defenceman of the Year Award: Kacey Bellamy (Calgary Inferno), Erin Ambrose (Les Canadiennes de Montreal), and Laura Fortino (Markham Thunder).
Congratulations to the nominees for Defenceman of the Year! @LesCanadiennes @ThunderCWHL @InfernoCWHL @ambrose_13 @fortino_laura77 @kbells22— CWHL (@TheCWHL) March 15, 2019
Come celebrate with us! https://t.co/P9DvZif6Jl pic.twitter.com/j5lR5ZVw5Q
Kacey Bellamy played with the Boston (now Worcester) Blades from 2010 to 2015, then played for two years in the NWHL with the Boston Pride before returning to the CWHL this season to join a stacked Inferno team. She has notched 21 points this season in 26 games played, making her the highest-scoring defender on the Inferno. She had the lowest number of even-strength goals-against among the three nominees with 10 total, and her even-strength goals-against per game was also the lowest of all three. This is a testament not only to her proven ability to create offense, but also to her defensive responsibility on the other end of the ice.
Erin Ambrose is in her third season in the CWHL and her second year with Les Canadiennes, having spent her first pro season with the Toronto Furies. Like Bellamy, she was the highest-scoring defender on her team. Also like Bellamy, she has 21 points this season, cementing her reputation as a great offensive forward, known for helping create and finish scoring chances. Although her goals-against statistics are not as strong as Bellamy’s, her offensive numbers are slightly better. She has eight more even-strength goals-for, and her even-strength goals-for percentage is a whopping 77.55%. Weirdly, the Canadiennes also have exactly eight more goals-for than the Inferno. Ambrose has made a name for herself as one of the best, if not the best, offensive defenders in the CWHL.
Laura Fortino was the highest-scoring defender on the Markham Thunder this season with 17 points over 26 games played. She led the team in secondary assists with seven, and was on the ice for 25 of Markham’s even-strength goals, the most of any Thunder player. However, she was also on the ice for the most even-strength goals against at 27. This probably points more to the fact that the Thunder relied heavily on her play in all situations and she saw a lot of ice time over the season rather than making a statement against her defensive ability. She blocked a noticeable number of shots for the Thunder this year and contributed to the gritty, determined character of the team.
The winner of the 2019 Defender of the Year Award will be revealed on March 22 at the CWHL Awards Show in Toronto.
Statistics for this article were taken from the CWHL Tracker website.