After two tough losses to RPI last week, the Williams women’s ice hockey team rebounded with two victories over a three-game stretch this week. With wins over Hamilton and Trinity, as well as a loss Friday to ECAC South leader Wesleyan, the Ephs’ record now stands at 6-6-1.
Trinity College, one of the weaker teams in the ECAC, posed little problem for Williams on Saturday as the Ephs pounded the Bantams 5-1. The Williams offense was well balanced throughout the game as four different Ephs participated in the scoring, which was evenly spread over the three periods.
The dominating performance began with a power play goal by Alexis Scott ’00 at the 6:34 mark of the first period with Amanda Weber ’02 and Julie Rusczek ’99 credited with assists. Less than two minutes later, at 8:19, Caitlin Bowler ’02, assisted by Molly Venter ’02 and Cara Shortsleeve ’00, scored the team’s second goal. Trinity would, later in the first period, score a goal that reduced the lead to one.
In the second period, however, Williams completely took over, once again scoring two goals within two minutes of each other, and putting the game out of the Bantams’ reach. The first came at 18:30 courtesy of Shortsleeve from Katie Gold ’00 and Bowler. The second, off a power play at 19:36, came from the sticks of Bowler, her second of the night, assisted by Shortsleeve and Gold. The Ephs capped off the performance in the third period when Rusczek scored a final goal at the 16:24 mark. Emily Small ’00 was credited with the assist. Goalie Kate Niederhoffer ’99 saved ten shots on the night.
Unfortunately for the Ephs, it was a different story against Wesleyan as Williams fell 5-2. The Cardinals came in leading the ECAC South and were widely considered to be a playoff contender. Wesleyan scored its first two goals early in the first period, then adding one more in the period before Williams’s Kristen Lee ’00 broke through the Cardinal defense to score the Ephs’ first goal at the 19:03 mark of the second period. Small and Scott were credited for assists on the power play goal. In the third, Wesleyan added to its lead, scoring two more goals within the first eight minutes of the period. Williams would later end the day’s scoring when Katie Gold ’00 netted a goal midway through the third period (8:34). Shortsleeve was credited with the assist.
In goal, the Ephs’ Kate Niederhoffer saved 37 of 42 shots while Wesleyan’s Emma DeSimone saved 19 of 21.
Earlier in the week, the Ephs succeeded in avenging an earlier loss to Hamilton in a 2-0 shutout over the Continentals. In December at Hamilton, Williams had suffered one of its most heartbreaking losses of the season. On that night, the Ephs scored two goals during the last five minutes of play to send the game into sudden-death overtime before succumbing to a Hamilton goal just 49 seconds later.
There would be no such heartbreak this time, largely because of Niederhoffer’s outstanding goaltending, as she saved all 29 shots she faced, including 14 in the third period.
The Eph offense got started at the 9:51 mark of the first period when Shortsleeve first put Williams on the scoreboard. Bowler ’02 and Rusczek were credited with the assists. At the 19:15 mark of the third, the Ephs extended their lead on a Small goal off a Gold assist. Hamilton, however, far from giving up, mounted numerous charges towards the Williams net as the clock was winding down. The last two minutes were especially exciting, as the Continentals lifted their goalie. With the extra skater, Hamilton was able to get off a number of good shots down the stretch and keep the puck near the Williams goal. Fortunately, the Williams defense and Niederhoffer held strong during these final seconds, turning back every Hamilton shot to preserve the shutout.
Williams next faces Augsburg College at home on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.