During her first training sessions at Harvard, she boldly wore spandex and revealing slit T-shirt outfits, earning the nickname “Cleave” from her teammates.
Her 2002 ECAC Rookie of the Year Award speech has become the stuff of lore in the Harvard women’s hockey program for its aimless rambling and unintended comic effect.
And while many expected her to shoulder a good portion of the offensive production, no one predicted she would be grabbing so many headlines while setting the NCAA record for most goals in a season.
“I think she established herself as a premier player in her freshman year,” long-time teammate Ashley Banfield says. “She stumbled a bit sophomore year and bounced back junior year. But I don’t think anyone expected her to absolutely tear up the record books this season.”
Her record-setting 59 goals on the season shattered the old mark of 51. She managed to score a goal in 28 of 36 games—including 19 multiple-goal games and six hat tricks—while registering a point in all but three.
Corriero added 32 assists to her goal count for 91 total points on the season—accounting for over 60 percent of the Crimson’s total offense, fourth best in the nation. And by season’s end she had passed A.J. Mlezcko ’97-’99 for third on Harvard’s all-time scoring list with 265 career points.
“This season Nicole just did it all. It didn’t matter if we were down three goals, up two goals, whether we needed a power play goal, or needed a penalty kill for two minutes,” junior Jennifer Raimondi says. “She put her body on the line for the team every night.”
Others took notice. Corriero received the Sarah Devens Award from the ECAC as the player who most “demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice.” She finished as a Top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award for the best player in women’s college hockey, was named ECAC and Ivy League Player of the Year, first team All-ECAC and All-Ivy, Beanpot Most Valuable Player, and the Most Outstanding Player at the 2005 ECAC Women’s Hockey League Championships.
When the team found itself with a 7-6-1 record at the close of 2004, Corriero remained a scoring staple that helped the Crimson burst out of the rut in 2005—including a five-goal clinic against rival Dartmouth—en route to an undefeated campaign into the NCAA tournament.
“I get a lot of attention because of my stats, but the important thing to realize is that I couldn’t have done a fraction of that without my teammates, and more specifically my line-mates,” Corriero says. “I wouldn’t be a better player if in practice my teammates didn’t challenge me.”
“If you ask Nicole, she’ll be the first to tell you that it wasn’t a season about her, it was a season about the team,” Raimondi says. “She had the highest level of appreciation for the whole package because it was her last year, and you could tell from her higher level of commitment to the team.”
This dedication often translated into coming up big in the clutch because each win down the stretch prolonged Corriero’s career.
Corriero does not plan to play competitive hockey again. She was left off the Canadian National Team roster, in part because according to national team scout Wally Kozak, “she would literally have to learn how to skate” to make the team.
Nevertheless, Corriero beat the odds—both by proving doubters wrong about her capabilities and by leading the Crimson to the NCAA Championship game.
While campaigning for the title, Mercyhurst had Harvard on the brink of elimination in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Corriero rose to the occasion, scoring four of Harvard’s five goals—including the game-tying goal to force overtime—as well as assisting on the final game-winner in triple-overtime.