UMD women's hockey: Norton enters transfer portal, could still return to Bulldogs
Bulldogs senior defenseman Lizi Norton is keeping her options open after helping UMD reach back-to-back NCAA Frozen Fours and earning an education degree over the past four seasons.
DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth senior defenseman Lizi Norton has entered the NCAA's transfer portal, though, the door has not been closed on her returning to UMD for a fifth season in 2022-23.
Norton, 22, has been a regular on the Bulldogs’ blue line the last four seasons, including back-to-back NCAA Frozen Four runs in 2021 and 2022. She played in 126 career games at UMD, totaling six career goals and 25 assists.
Norton is also graduating from UMD this spring with an education degree, one that focuses on special education (integrated elementary and special education). Students typically student-teach full-time after graduation, something she would not be able to do if she were to return to UMD to play a fifth season of hockey. Norton's original plan was to delay her student-teaching for a year and instead begin work on a masters degree in education, however, Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell said Norton is re-evaluating that plan.
Crowell said the Bulldogs are "totally open" to Norton returning to UMD for 2022-23, but they also support Norton doing what's best for her.
"This is such a unique time in their lives. Most seniors have all sorts of anxiety around graduating because hockey is over and they're supposed to start their real life, but they don't know what to do. And these guys are similar," Crowell said. "I respect her decision to re-evaluate everything and figure out what's best for her. And if that's somewhere else, that's somewhere else. If it's here, great."
A graduate of Orono High School in the Twin Cities, Norton helped the United States win back-to-back gold medals at the 2017 and 2018 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship before becoming a Bulldog. Crowell was an assistant coach on the 2018 team.
Norton, who did not take part in UMD's Senior Day ceremony in February, is not the first of her senior classmates to reconsider her status for the 2022-23 season. Senior goaltender Emma Soderberg, who did take part in the Senior Day festivities, is now coming back for 2022-23 after originally saying her college career was over.
If Norton does not return to UMD for 2022-23, the Bulldogs would still have a roster of 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders for next season as the team plans to return senior Kylie Hanley to her natural position of center after moving her to defenseman in the second half of 2021-22.
Minus Norton, UMD will still return 17 returnees from the team that fell to Ohio State in the 2022 national championship game, including seven fifth-year seniors. An eighth fifth-year senior, defenseman Ashton Bell, returns from winning gold with Canada at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
Norton is the fourth Bulldog to enter the transfer portal this offseason along with sophomore goaltender Jojo Chobak, freshman goaltender Holly Gruber and junior forward Kassy Betinol, who was centralized with China during the 2021-22 season for the Olympics.
Winter sports athletes had a deadline of May 1 to enter the NCAA transfer portal following the conclusion of their 2021-22 season. After that, student-athletes may only enter the portal because of a reduction or cut in financial aid, or because of a coaching change within their program.