Women’s hockey eagerly heads into conference championship

Women’s ice hockey (8-9-2, 5-5-2 in the NESCAC) faced off against rival Amherst last weekend. The No. 2 Jeffs won the NESCAC mini-series against the third-ranked Ephs on Saturday with a 2-0 victory. On Friday, the Ephs also lost to the Jeffs. On Saturday, Amherst first-year Alex Toupal scored the game-winning goal at 10:51 in the second period. The Jeffs outshot the Ephs 13 to nine, but goalie Christina Cleroux ’18 stayed big in net to keep the score at 0-0 going into the second stanza. The Jeffs came out skating fast at the start of the second. Amherst sophomore Caitlyn Ryan took a shot from the right point, and Amherst first-year Emma Griese tipped in the puck off the rebound to take the lead 35 seconds into the period. A few minutes after the goal, Amherst first-year Brenna Sullivan took a slap shot that hit the Williams’ crossbar. The puck landed close to Amherst sophomore Lynndy Smith, who took a shot that rebounded off Cleroux’s pads and went straight back to Sullivan. Before she could take a shot, Cleroux made a diving save to keep the score at 1-0. Toupal secured the Amherst lead 10 minutes later with another tip-in goal. The Ephs had several chances in the final period, but failed to get the puck past Jeffs’ goalie Yuna Evans who earned her second consecutive shutout. With a minute and a half left in the game, Williams pulled Cleroux in a last effort to come back, but were unable to secure a goal. Sarah Lehman ’17 and Emily Krueger ’17 lead the Ephs with six shots apiece for Williams, while Cleroux made a total of 28 saves.

The night before, the women also fell short against Amherst. The Ephs went down 1-0 early, and received a penalty right after the goal, but were able to hold off the Jeffs to keep it a one-goal game. However, the Jeffs kept pressure on the Ephs, and extended their lead to 2-0 with another goal from Sullivan at 14:27. With just under a minute of play to go in the first period, Michaela Levine ’16 fired a shot from one knee that Evans got her glove on to keep the game at 2-0. The Ephs registered seven shots on net in the first 2:55 minutes of the third frame but could not find the back of the net. Both Lehman and Chelsey Stevenson ’17 had back-to-back scoring opportunities, but Evans made two solid saves to preserve the two-goal lead. The Ephs put pressure on the Jeff goal tender late in the third by pulling Cleroux for a one-man advantage. Kearan Burke ’18 and Emily Eide ’18 had shots on net, but Evans stayed tough between the posts to secure a shutout. At the end of January, the women took on Bowdoin, and sent their NESCAC opponent back to Maine after securing a 5-1 win. Krueger scored the game-winning goal at 10:31 in the first period to go up 2-1 against the Polar Bears. Gwen Schultz ’15 earned a hat trick, starting off with a goal in the first period. Play went up and down the ice for the next 10 minutes. After a Bowdoin goal, the team was quick to respond twenty seconds later with a power play goal from Krueger. Hanna Beattie ’17 took a low shot from the point that was then rebounded right to Krueger, who neatly placed it in the net for her fifth goal of the season. The Ephs secured a 3-1 lead over the Polar Bears at 11:20 with another goal by Schultz. Bowdoin came out strong in the second period, doing a good job circling the puck in the Williams zone. However, Cleroux had good rebound control to keep the Ephs on top. Williams’ offense picked up the pace after the first two minutes of play with Stevenson scoring to put Williams up 4-1.

The Ephs earned their second penalty kill of the night at the beginning of the third period and held the momentum for the remainder of the game. At 6:28, Schultz scored her third goal of the night assisted by co- captain Andree Heller ’15. Schultz is the top scorer for the Ephs, with six goals for the season. Williams substituted goalie Charlie Billadeau ’15 for Cleroux in the last nine minutes of play. He saw lots of action in net, making a total of 10 saves to help the Ephs towards a 5-1 victory over the Polar Bears. On Jan. 24, the women lost a close game against Colby, 2-1. Though the Ephs outshotthe Mules 34 to 16, the Mules tied up the series 1-1 after falling to the Ephs the night prior 3-1. Results from the team’s game against Sacred Heart came in too late to report. The women will play their final home games of the season on Friday and Saturday against NESCAC rival Middlebury. “We’re really in control of our own fate as we head into NESCACs. We still have the opportunity to host a first round game and thst has been one of our goals from the beginning of the season season season. Everything after that will fall into place if we just focus on playing a solid 60 minutes of hockey every game,” Heller said.

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