EDMONTON – Women's hockey goaltender Natalie Bender has been named the Sandman Signature Player of the Month for the month of February.
Bender wins a free night's stay at the Sandman Signature Hotel downtown.
In February – the final month of her university career – Bender was incredible for the Griffins, giving them a chance to win every game she started against three of the top-four teams in Canada West.
The St. Albert product stopped 144 of 156 shots she faced in four February games for a .923 save percentage.
What makes that even more impressive is that her starts included two against U SPORTS No. 7 Alberta, a match at No. 10 Saskatchewan and, perhaps the finest game of her career to finish it, at No. 2 Mount Royal. The Griffins were outshot 156-64 combined in those contests.
"Against the second-ranked team in the nation, Bendy finished her varsity career by holding them to only two goals, despite them being the most potent offensive team in the league," said MacEwan women's hockey head coach Lindsay McAlpine of the team's 2-1 loss on Feb. 19 to the Cougars that featured 40 saves from her goaltender.
"She gave us a chance to win in every game this month against three of the top four teams."
For the season, Bender finished with a 2.67 goals against average and .922 save percentage, solid numbers for one of the busiest goalies in the league. Her 389 saves in 742:29 minutes was among the top saves per minute ratio in Canada West.
The graduating senior leaves as the program's career regular season shutouts leader with 12 across four seasons.
"Further, the legacy she leaves has impacts far beyond the rink, and I am grateful for everything she has given to our program and MacEwan Athletics," said McAlpine.