Norwich hands women’s ice hockey 4-2 loss in final period

Coming off last weekend’s disappointing losses to Colby and Bowdoin, women’s ice hockey (6-12-1, 4-6-1 in the NESCAC) hoped to regain momentum in Friday’s game against Norwich (13-7-1). Falling behind early in the game, the Ephs battled back in the second period to tie the game up at two goals apiece. However, the Ephs finally succumbed to the continual pressure from the Cadets in the third, falling 4-2.

The Cadets and the Ephs were neck-and-neck throughout the first period, with both teams earning ample scoring opportunities. Although the Ephs displayed excellent offensive skill, they remained a bit sloppy in their defensive zone; with 3:41 left in the period, a miscommunication allowed Cadet forward Brittane Michaud to open up the scoring with an unassisted power play goal. Williams’ defense prevented any more scoring in the first period despite Norwich’s seven shots on goal.

The second period opened with another unassisted Cadet goal. In the battle to make up for the two-goal deficit, several outstanding saves from Eph goalie Sara Plunkett ’10 proved instrumental. With defensive stops the momentum of the game quickly changed. Rookie forward Hannah Systrom ’12 touched in a pass from Tracey Ferriter ’10, assisted by Lauren Zurek ’11 to finally put the Ephs on the board. Three minutes later, Sarah Herr ’12 tipped in a shot from defenseman Mallory Green ’09 to score the tying goal in a power play. Co-captain Sam Tarnasky ’09 had the second assist.

The Ephs’ downfall occurred in the final period. The momentum of the second period carried into the third, keeping the game fast-paced and close. With 11:43 remaining in the game, Cadet Kelsey Cone scored after a scuffle in front of the net. The Ephs continued to play fiercely, thwarting all Cadet advances and attempting to capitalize on offensive plays. Norwich, however, sealed the victory with only two and half minutes remaining on a sniper shot from Sophie LeClerc. Williams was outshot by Norwich 16-5 in the final period.

Head Coach Shannon Bryant attributed the loss to a few breakdowns. “I thought it was a pretty good game but we can’t have a three-shift let down like we did,” she said. “It was definitely a learning experience, and hopefully we can take that lesson and apply it to the final games of the season.”

The team definitely proved a worthy adversary to the Cadets, who have the best record in their division of the ECAC. “It was nice to see us battle through the two-goal deficit. It really showed our team’s character,” Tarnasky said.

The men are going to need that character today when they battle perennial powerhouse Middlebury at the Chip Kenyon ’85 Arena. “We recognized that we underperformed for a few minutes, costing us the weekend,” co-captain Joey Lye ’09. “Knowing our team, we’ll work to minimize those lapses, and hopefully come out for a strong 60 minutes against Middlebury.”

After playing Middlebury tonight, the team will play at Conn. College on Saturday and at Amherst on Sunday.