All good things must eventually come to an end, and the women’s hockey team’s unbeaten streak was no exception. After eight games without a loss, the Raiders finally suffered a defeat at the hands of a talented Princeton squad. A victory against Quinnipiac the following night, however, put the Raiders back in the win column, and the team is in great shape heading into the final four games of the regular season.
Ending the unbeaten streak is not such a bad thing. In fact, it may be a blessing in disguise. Ask last year’s New England Patriots when they would have liked to have their streak ended and I’m sure they would unanimously agree that it is far better to end it in the regular season than in the playoffs. With the streak over the Raiders can regroup, learn from the loss and prepare for the playoff push without the added pressure of the streak affecting their play.
The Princeton game began rather ominously for Colgate. The Tigers scored two goals in the first ten minutes to take a lead they would never relinquish. Colgate cut the deficit in half with just twenty seconds remaining in the first period when senior defenseman Clancy Todd scored a power-play goal off assists from junior forwards Nicole McDonald and Beth Rotenberg. With 2:02 remaining in the second period Princeton struck again to take a 3-1 advantage into the third period.
“We came out flat and they took advantage,” junior forward Marissa Dombovy said. “We were not able to win the 50-50 like we have been lately. They battled much harder than we did.”
In need of a pair of third period goals, the Raiders managed just five shots and were unable to put the puck past Princeton goaltender Kristen Young, who stopped 18 of the 19 shots she faced in the game. First-year goaltender Kimberly Sass stopped 29 of 32 Tiger shots.
“We dug ourselves a hole and we had a hard time gaining momentum because we got so many penalties,” senior forward Sam Hunt added. “We did not play as well as we had been on our winning streak, we weren’t doing the little things right that we usually do, and we struggled as a result against Princeton.”
Following the loss, Colgate showed no ill effects and dominated bottom-dweller Quinnipiac to start up what could be another substantial winning streak.
The Raiders were shutout in the first period, but more than made up for it in the second. Just 2:32 into the period, Dombovy received a pass from sophomore forward Jacquie Colborne and fired it into the back of the net for the game’s first goal. Junior forward Evan Minnick was also credited with an assist.
The Raiders doubled their lead midway through the period when Rotenberg scored her 10th goal of the season. Todd and sophomore forward Jessi Waters assisted the goal.
The Colgate lead was increased to three with just seven seconds remaining in the period. Junior forward Katie Stewart scored her team-leading 13th goal of the season when she received a pass from junior defenseman Ali Edell, skated down the center, and fired a puck for the third Raider tally.
Dombovy added her second goal of the game early in the third period to put the game thoroughly out of reach. Rotenberg and Todd both assisted the goal for their second points of the game.
Sass’ shutout bid was denied when Quinnipiac scored a meaningless goal midway through the period, but she was impressive as usual in the 4-1 victory, stopping 25 of the 26 shots she faced.
“We always respond well on Saturdays if we have a poor performance on Friday,” Dombovy said after her two-goal performance. “We got our feet moving and they were unable to keep up with us.”
With just four regular season games remaining, the Raiders find themselves tied with Princeton for fourth in the ECAC standings. Finishing in fourth place is huge because the top four teams host league quarterfinal playoff games.
Staying in that position will be no easy task considering Colgate’s slate of games this weekend. The Raiders host Dartmouth, currently second in the ECAC, at 7 p.m. on Friday. That game is followed by a Valentine’s Day showdown at 4 p.m. against third-place Harvard. Both games are at Starr Rink.
“Every weekend is important, but since we are down to our last four games of the season, every game is critical because we want to have home ice for playoffs,” Dombovy said. “We need to come ready, physically and mentally, to battle for a full 60 minutes both nights. Even though both teams are ahead of us, we all know we can beat them if we play to our potential.”