Hockey’s offense goes cold vs. RPI

The last two weeks have been among the most important of the year for the Williams women’s ice hockey team as it has four games against ECAC North rivals. After breaking their third-place tie with Vermont last Saturday with a 4-1win over UVM, the Ephs hoped to climb further in the standings by winning their home-and-home matchups against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Unfortunately, the Ephs couldn’t leap over RPI, the second-place team in ECAC North, as they lost their home against the Red Hawks 2-1 and their Friday away game to them 7-0. The team’s record now stands at 4-5-1.

In their 7-0 loss to RPI on Friday, the Ephs were unable to capitalize on any of their scoring opportunities, while the Red Hawks seemed to make the most of theirs. RPI started things off swiftly in the first, scoring three times, on goals by Jessica Malec, Andrea Wadman and Cindy Acropolis. It would score three more goals in the second and add another in the third. Its attack was balanced throughout the game, as seven different Red Hawks scored goals.

Williams, despite having 29 shots and six power play opportunities, was unable to capitalize on any of its scoring opportunities. For the game, Kate Niederhoffer ’99 saved 18 of the 22 shots she faced. Becky Sanborn ’01 saved 20 of the 23 shots she faced after subbing in for Niederhoffer midway through the second period. RPI goalie Nina Lynch, playing all 60 minutes, finished with 29 saves.

Their previous 2-1 loss at home against RPI was much closer. In fact, Williams controlled the puck for most of the game but, in the end, fell a bit short to the Red Hawks.

The game was competitive throughout, as both teams had plenty of scoring opportunities. Williams struck first on a goal by Emily Small ’00 from Molly Venter ’02 and Caitlin Bowler ’02 at the 14:12 mark of the first. The Ephs held RPI in check for much of the next two periods. RPI, however, was able to break through the tough Eph defense as it scored its first goal late in the second. Andrea Wadman was credited for the goal while Anais Cunha got the assist.

With 9:31 left in the third, RPI put itself ahead for good on a goal by Andrea Poley from Cunha and Malec. However, the game was not over for RPI as Williams created a number of scoring opportunities down the stretch, the best of which came in the last two minutes when the Ephs had a power play and left an empty net. Despite getting close to the goal, Williams was unable to pull out the tie to send the game to overtime.

Niederhoffer saved 35 of the 37 shots she faced while RPI’s Laura DeNuccio saved 21 of 22.

Forward Cara Shortsleeve ’00 believes the first game against RPI a was much closer in representation of the team’s true talent level than the second. The second game was definitely a surprise. “While the first game was a legitimate representation of our talent, the second match was a fluke — it was a bad night to have a bad game.”

The Ephs face Hamilton this week at home and will try to avenge a close loss they had to the Continentals earlier in the year. After the team’s losses this week to RPI, Shortsleeve expects Williams to make a statement this week

“We are ready for three good practices before Hamilton. This is a big week, and the second loss to RPI only heightens our desire to get back on track.”