Women’s ice hockey splits pair of NESCAC games with Hamilton

Faced with stalwart goaltending, women’s ice hockey (6-7, 3-3 in the NESCAC) fell 4-2 to NESCAC rival Hamilton last Saturday after an exciting 4-2 victory over the Continentals on Friday. On Jan. 10, the women earned a 3-0 shutout over New England College. The victory came after the team split a pair of games with Trinity, losing 2-1 on Jan. 7 and winning 2-1 on Jan. 6. Williams returned from break with a resounding 9-0 victory over Plymouth State on Jan. 4. Before break, the women fell 5-1 to Elmira on Dec. 11 and also suffered a 6-5 overtime defeat to Nichols on Dec. 10.

Hamilton got off to an aggressive start in Saturday’s game, scoring 2:37 into the first period. After this flurry of offensive action, play died down, leaving both teams scoreless for the rest of the period. Hamilton held its 1-0 lead into the break.

Coming out of the locker room with renewed energy, Hamilton had a dynamic start to the second period, sliding another goal past rookie netminder Chloe Billadeau ’15 less than two minutes in. With the score 2-0 in Hamilton’s favor, the women got a promising opportunity to break through the Continental defense with a five-on-three power play. Sam Weinstein ’13 capitalized on the advantage, slipping the puck into the net following an assist from Sarah Herr ’12 to bring the score to 2-1 with seven minutes remaining in the period.

The Ephs got the opportunity to build on this momentum when a high-sticking call against the Continentals granted the women a power play less than two minutes into the third period. Aimee Dennett ’13 found the back of the net, with co-captain Eliza Foster ’12 and Caitlin Conlon ’15 assisting. However, the momentum shifted again with two Hamilton goals before the end of the period. Despite strong offensive efforts from the Ephs, the Continentals kept them scoreless for the rest of the third period, denying 15 shots on goal. Hamilton claimed a 4-2 victory in the game.

On Friday, Williams notched a 4-2 conference victory over Hamilton. The Continentals struck the first blow, scoring nine minutes into the first period off a rebounded shot. Co-captain Hannah Systrom ’12 responded just three minutes later, evening the score at 1-1 with a goal assisted by Cristina Bravi ’14. Kristen Tubbs ’12 notched her ninth goal of the season two minutes later to give Williams a 2-1 lead. Herr claimed the assist on the goal after setting Tubbs up for a one-timer in front of the net. The Ephs headed to the second period with a 2-1 lead.

The second period was scoreless until late in the period when Foster rifled a shot at the Continentals’ goal. Continental goalie Becca Hazlett blocked the shot, but Haena Lee ’14 was there to collect the rebound. Lee slipped the puck into the back of the net, giving the Ephs a 3-1 lead 16 minutes into the second. Hamilton responded with a goal 2:36 into the third period, tightening the women’s lead to 3-2. Bravi erased the Hamilton goal with a score of her own 10:33 into the third, solidifying the women’s 4-2 victory. Despite their 30-22 shot advantage, the Continentals could not break the Ephs’ goaltending, and the Ephs were able to neutralize all four of the Continentals’ penalty opportunities.

“Our last weekend was a tough one,” Systrom said. “We came out on top for the first game and played with a ton of energy. We were definitely the better team but had a few defensive mishaps on Saturday and unfortunately did not come away with a win.”

On Jan. 10, Williams crushed New England College in a 3-0 non-conference victory.  Despite strong offensive efforts, the opposition held the women scoreless for the first period. The women broke the scoring drought 6:43 into the second period when Gabrielle Vukasin ’14 scored off a rebounded shot. With 2:40 remaining in the second, the Ephs took advantage of a power play to extend their lead off a deflected shot from Weinstein. Tubbs sealed the victory with 12:54 left to play, scoring her eighth goal of the season to put the women up 3-0. Billadeau recorded 20 saves for the Ephs.

Williams split another NESCAC series against Trinity on Jan. 6-7, losing 2-1 to Trinity on Jan. 7 after a close 2-1 victory the night before. The Ephs made a strong effort against the Bantams but fell short despite a goal in the second frame from Bravi. The women notched a 2-1 conference victory against the Bantams on Jan. 6. Dennett and Bravi both scored in the contest, and Billadeau turned in a strong goaltending performance with 21 saves.

The women destroyed Plymouth State 9-0 on Jan. 4. Tubbs led the Ephs’ scoring with a hat trick, while Vukasin tallied two goals and Weinstein, Bravi, Systrom and Andree Heller ’15 each scored one goal in the contest.

Before its impressive victory against Plymouth State, Williams fell 5-1 to top-ranked Elmira on Dec. 11. Elmira dominated play, firing 51 shots at the Williams goalkeepers. Heller scored the women’s only goal for the night off a redirect from Ally Ensor ’14.

The women also fell 6-5 to Nichols in overtime despite outshooting their foes 50-25. Vukasin had a hat trick in the game, and Tubbs notched two goals.

The women played Castleton on Tuesday, but results came in too late to report. Williams will host Colby for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday. Faceoff will be at 7 p.m. on Friday and at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

“Overall the season has been going really well,” Systrom said. “We have a great group of girls and are competing hard despite being a younger group. We have improved our play since being back from break and are only going up from here. We are excited for this coming weekend against Colby.”