Women’s hockey: Goalie Natalie Stott starring for Amherst College during historic season

  • Amherst College goaltender Natalie Stott celebrates after defeating Hamilton 5-0 to win the NESCAC championship last weekend at Orr Rink in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst College goaltender Natalie Stott (1) eyes in the puck for a save against Hamilton College’s Mya Berretta (11) in the third period of the NESCAC championship last weekend at Orr Rink in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 3/10/2023 7:24:19 PM
Modified: 3/10/2023 7:24:08 PM

Amherst netminder Natalie Stott is one of the most intimidating players on the ice. 

Her team is already one of the stingiest in the country, allowing just 26 goals this season – third-fewest in NCAA Division 3. Stott leads all goaltenders in Div. 3 with 12 shutouts, and she became the first goalie in NESCAC history to not allow a single goal during the entirety of the NESCAC tournament. And did we mention that she’s only a freshman? 

But while her stats and play have opponents shaking in their boots, behind the mask, Stott is a goofy college kid having a blast during her first collegiate season. 

“She is the craziest person ever in the best way possible,” Amherst’s Kaila Bush said. “She is a big personality and is so fun to be around and is just overall a great person.” 

Just one example – Bush, one of Stott’s goalie partners for the Mammoths this season, will often pump her up by singing one of Stott’s favorite songs from the second “Descendants” movie. Goaltenders can sometimes get a bad reputation for being quirky or eccentric, but for Stott, it’s one of her best qualities, right next to her remarkable ability to stop any hockey puck flung her way.

What makes Stott’s meteoric rise even more astonishing is that she became a goaltender relatively late in her hockey career. Though she first started playing hockey at the age of six, she played mostly as a forward and defender until she was 12. That was when she finally put on a pair of goalie pads and got in the net, though she says her dad will tell you that she always wanted to be a goaltender. 

“I remember I always wanted kind of control of whether the puck went in the net or not. So I kind of credit it to that year,” Stott said. “I was always kind of drawn to it.” 

It wasn’t easy to make the switch from a skater to a goaltender. It can be a pretty technical position, and Stott said at first there was some “flopping around” while she learned the ropes. She went to (and still goes to) Stop It Goaltending, a year-round development center that offers lessons to help goalies hone their skills. While there, she trained with Mark Hanson and most recently with Katie Burt, current goaltender of the Metropolitan Riveters in the Premier Hockey Federation. 

But Stott was already a strong athlete to begin with and picked up the basics quickly. She played most of her high school hockey at Williston Northampton School, where she backstopped the program to their first-ever NEPSAC title at the end of the 2021-22 season. When she showed up in Amherst for her freshman season, nobody really knew how quickly she would adapt to the college scene, with players who were bigger, faster and had more experience.

“We knew she was good. But there's always that transition period from prep school to college, and it is a different type of hockey. It's faster, the shots are stronger, just more of a heavy game right? So regardless of your talent, coming out of high school that may or may not translate, and she's impressed,” Amherst goaltending coach Zac Steigmeyer said. “She's just so fundamentally sound. That's kind of where her game is founded, where it’s molded around.”

Stott has been Amherst’s No. 1 goalie from the jump this season, and she’s been playing like a seasoned pro. The 5-foot-9 freshman has been named the NESCAC Rookie of the Year and was a NESCAC First Team selection. She's started 26 games and during that time has accumulated a 1.01 goals against average and .949 save percentage.

Stott has noticed a difference in the game, but her time at Williston prepared her for her college debut. 

“The game is definitely faster. But I feel like goaltending-wise it was a pretty steady transition. I feel like the Williston teams and our Amherst team this year are pretty similar where I'm not always seeing a ton of shots depending on who we're playing against,” Stott said. “So the transition there wasn't too hard.”

She hopes to keep her season going a little longer as the Mammoths prepare to host Colby College in the NCAA Div. 3 quarterfinals on Saturday at 3 p.m. Her success has drawn a lot of attention, and with that comes a little bit of pressure, but she’s trying to keep things loose and enjoy the ride as much as possible.

“I definitely credit a lot of that to my defense because the reasons those shutouts happen –  obviously, I'm making saves but a lot of shots are getting blocked and we're keeping it in the other end a lot. But it's definitely a cool feeling, especially as a first year,” Stott said. “I feel like it also brings a little bit of pressure because there’s still three more years and I want to be able to get better every year. But yeah, it’s a cool feeling.”

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