The women’s hockey team continued its consistently inconsistent play last weekend. For the third consecutive week the Raiders split their pair of games. Consequently, their record continues to hover just above the .500 mark, as they are 6-5 this season, 1-1 in the ECAC after their first round of league games.
According to junior Katie Stewart, however, that record is not reflective of the team’s performance thus far.
“We have had some strong non-conference victories and some close games where we did not get the win. We are ready now to attack the conference games with confidence and strong team play.”
Colgate opened the seemingly never-ending ECAC schedule with home contests against Quinnipiac and Princeton. Quinnipiac came to Hamilton sporting a 1-9 record, having been outscored 45 to 12 through its first ten games. Coupled with the fact that Colgate had never lost to the Bobcats in 15 previous meetings, the Raiders were the clear favorites to open the ECAC season with a victory. But all of that was meaningless when the two teams took the ice.
Colgate has been plagued by slow starts throughout the early season. However, that problem was addressed very quickly against Quinnipiac.
“Having a strong first period and reducing the number of penalties will be key,” first-year goaltender Kimberly Sass said prior to the game.
The team did just that as they jumped to a 2-0 first period lead and held the Bobcats scoreless on their only two power-plays in the game. Junior forward Beth Rotenberg started the scoring when she poked a rebound into the back of the net midway through the period. Rotenberg’s linemates, senior Clancy Todd and junior Evan Minnick, were credited with the assists.
The Raiders struck again just three minutes later when sophomore forward Jacquie Colborne scored her first goal of the season. That, however, would be Colgate’s final goal of the game.
After holding the Bobcats scoreless for the first half of the game, sophomore goalie Lisa Plenderleith was finally beaten with eight minutes remaining in the second period to cut the Colgate lead to one. The score would remain 2-1 entering the final period.
Colgate dominated the final period in shots, accumulating an astounding 17 to Quinnipiac’s eight, but shots are meaningless if they don’t find the back of the net. The Raiders couldn’t beat Tia Wishart; she stopped 39 of the 41 shots she faced, including all 17 in the final period.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, made the most of their opportunities. They knotted the game at two midway through the period and scored the game-winner with just under five minutes remaining in the game.
There was no time to dwell on the tough loss, however, as the Raiders hosted Princeton the following day. For the second game in a row, Colgate jumped out to the early lead. Junior forward Marissa Dombovy’s shot was stopped, but Stewart alertly pounced on the rebound and fired it past Princeton’s Kristen Young for the early lead.
The lead, however, was brief. The Tigers evened the score four minutes after Stewart’s tally.
The second period was evenly played and looked destined to end scoreless, but junior forward Nicole McDonald had other ideas. With less than three minutes remaining before the second intermission, McDonald received a pass from senior defender Kiira Dosdall and skated unabated to the net. Princeton’s Young proved no match for the skills of McDonald; her first goal of the year gave the Raiders the 2-1 advantage.
Stewart added a little insurance for Colgate when she scored her second of the game with 6:15 remaining. The senior tandem from Calgary, Sam Hunt and Elin Brown, added the assists.
While Stewart was the offensive hero of the game, Kimberly Sass was undoubtedly the defensive star. She stopped a remarkable 46 of the 47 shots she faced, including an absurd 19 in the third period alone. Sass has now started four games in goal; the Raiders have been victorious in all four.
“I thought my teammates did a great job blocking shots and letting me see the puck,” Sass said afterwards. “Solid defense allowed us to control the game.”
Allowing 47 shots and 10 power-plays, however, is not a solid strategy for success.
“Staying out of the penalty box,” Sass admitted, is one of the keys for the team as the season progresses.
The ECAC season continues this weekend with another pair of contests at Starr Rink. Yale comes to town for a 7 p.m. game tonight, while Brown skates a Saturday matinee at 4 p.m.
Both games are certainly winnable for the Raiders. Yale boasts a 2-2 ECAC record, 2-3 overall. Brown is just 1-3 in league play, 1-4-1 overall.