With a sensational season filled with a remarkable haul of hockey hardware, highlighted by the Slaats Cup Championship, Tory (née Victoria) Harshman left a lasting impression in just two seasons with the Adrian College Bulldogs. Having spent the first half of her collegiate career with the Robert Morris Colonials from Moon Township, Pennsylvania, she definitely found her niche garbed in the Bulldogs jersey.
Averaging more than a point per game during Harshman’s two seasons with Adrian, she certainly elevated the quality of her already solid game in a memorable 2018-19. Statistically, she was a marvel, improving on six key statistical metrics, including goals (14), assists (19), points (33), plus/minus (+30), game-winning goals (4) and shots on goal (109).
A four-point outing on December 1, 2018 versus Aurora reflected Harshman’s finest individual performance of the season, and her career. Among the top scorers in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) conference and the highest ranked skaters in plus/minus, numbers alone could not measure her importance to the team.
Part of a senior class that included Shelly Czarnowczan, fellow Canadian Hannah Dalrymple, who captured Adrian College’s Leadership Award, and Kortney Diaz, recipient of the College’s Breakthrough Athlete Award, the admirable qualities of Harshman, who honed her skills in Owen Sound, Ontario, embodied the values of work ethic and devotion to both team and community, qualities strongly evident. Commendably paying it forward, the two-time NCHA All-Academic selection took on the role of hockey humanitarian in various functions.
Part of the Bulldogs’ Trick or Treat Patrol, ensuring a safe and pleasant experience for the youngsters in the Adrian community on Halloween, it was the kind of activity that enriched the essence of teamwork that defines the Bulldogs’ proud team culture. Simultaneously it also enhanced a prestigious milestone for Harshman, earning the privilege of serving as the Bulldogs team captain for 2018-19.
“It was truly an honor to be named captain this year and lead the team throughout the season. Being voted for this position by the girls meant a lot to me and I was happier than ever to be able to be that role model for the girls in my final season. I am so proud of this team and all the hard work the girls put in this past year to get as far as we did.”
Among four Bulldogs named to the NCHA All-Conference Team, Harshman was joined by Czarnowczan, three-time All-America selection Kelly O’Sullivan, who shall inherit the captaincy from Harshman heading into next season, and freshman goaltender Denisa Jandova, recognized as Adrian College’s Female Rookie of the Year Award. Discussing the impact of this honor, and the way in which it adds lustre to a sterling Bulldogs career, Harshman’s humility shines, quick to recognize the value of the entire team as an essential component towards her own individual success.
“It was a very special honor to be recognized within this conference within the two past years that I have been here at Adrian. I am humbled to have achieved this honor but I honestly would not have been able to do it without the help of my other teammates.”
During the season, Harshman emerged as an integral contributor in key contests, providing revered results. Defeating Plattsburgh State and Middlebury to capture the 2018 Panther/Cardinal Classic Championship, Harshman scored one of the biggest goals of her career in the final game. Finding the back of the net at the 3:25 mark of the third period (with assists credited to Julia Barrett and Jacqueline White), it proved to be the game-winning tally in a 4-1 final, providing Kate Turner with her seventh win of the season.
No regular season win was as meaningful as the one that clinched the Bulldogs their fifth consecutive Kronschnabel Trophy, awarded to the team with the best record in the NCHA. Trouncing the Marion (Wisconsin) Sabres by a 7-1 tally, Harshman gained a pair of assists on power play goals, both scored by Kelly O’Sullivan.
Coincidentally, the Sabres would play another role in the Bulldogs season. With the Bulldogs hosting senior night versus the visiting Sabres, the final outcome was a surprising 1-1 tie. Fittingly, Diaz, a member of the senior class, logged the only goal of the game for the Bulldogs, with Harshman and Brianna Buchanan earning the assists.
Such highlights served as prologue for a memorable run in her final postseason donned in Bulldogs’ colors. Outlasting the second-seeded challengers from St. Scholastica, a double overtime contest saw Brianna Buchanan record the game-winning goal, allowing the Bullodgs their second straight Slaats Cup triumph attained in overtime (in 2018, the Bulldogs bested Lake Forest by a 4-3 mark), emerging as NCHA postseason champions. Worth noting, Harshman and Amanda Tomasek earned the assist on the game’s opening goal by Jacqueline White.
With the win, which was the longest game in program history, it ensured the Bulldogs a spot in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Allowing Harshman the privilege of competing in one of collegiate hockey’s biggest showcase in each of her seasons as a member of the Bulldogs, it represents a jubilant highpoint. Simultaneously maintaining the program’s status as one of the nation’s finest, the proud captain’s devotion to team and program rise to the surface,
“It is a special achievement, personally. However, it was a team effort each year. I was happy I could be here and contribute to the team’s success these past two years. Not every team can say they’ve been to the NCAA tournament, let alone back to back seasons, which is something every girl on the team should be proud of as well.”
Compared to the 2018 edition of the NCAA Tournament, Harshman’s experience one year later reflected a much more enjoyable situation, beaming at the opportunity to qualify for the Frozen Four, only the second in program history. For three straight years (2017-19), Adrian and Elmira College were on a collision course, battling in the first round of Tournament play.
Facing off at Pine Valley, New York in 2019, the third match in this epic postseason rivalry resulted in a highly emotional 3-2 overtime win. Taking into account that Adrian defeated Elmira by a 5-4 overtime count in 2017, followed by Elmira gaining a shutout win in 2018, neither team wanted to emerge on the opposite end of victory this year.
An evenly matched game, testament to the quality of talent in this rivalry, was one that saw Adrian grab a 2-0 advantage after one period of play. Mounting a second period comeback, tying the game at 2-apiece, Elmira was unable to break the deadlock in the third. Jessica VonRuden, a freshman from Owatonna, Minnesota, emerged as the overtime hero, scoring the goal that supplied Harshman with the most treasured moment of her career with the Bulldogs.
“My favourite moment during my career here at Adrian College has to be when we scored in overtime to beat Elmira to go onto the Frozen Four. Seeing the team jumping off the bench with pure excitement is a moment I will never forget.”
Opposing the Plattsburgh State Cardinals in the Frozen Four, at Mendota Heights, Minnesota, familiarity served as a defining element. Having challenged the Cardinals for the 2017 national championship, the dream of returning to the championship stage was unfulfilled. Although there was a unique tinge of coincidence in the fact that VonRuden scored the Bulldogs’ only goal in the 4-1 loss, possibly destined to fill Harshman’s shoes as captain one day, there was one more contest to play, providing prospect at the chance for a glorious closure.
Once again, the future of the Bulldogs was most prominent, as freshman phenom Denisa Jandova earned a shutout, while Taylor Henthorne scored the game’s only goal in a dramatic 1-0 defeat of the St. Thomas Tommies in the Frozen Four’s third place game. Capping off their season with a total of 24 wins, assuring Harshman and her fellow seniors an opportunity to end their storied careers on a high note. The greater victory may have been a strong display of character, a refusal to quit, and an inspiring performance by the program’s younger stars, validating Harshman’s tireless leadership, while assuring that greater days remain part of the Bulldogs promising future.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”