“When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” That memorable quote from Animal House characterizes the feelings of the women’s hockey team, which has shown “A lot of energy and resolve” according to head coach Scott Wiley despite getting off to a 0-5-1 start. Heading into last week’s doubleheader against third-ranked Mercyhurst, the Raiders knew that coming away with a victory would be extremely uplifting. Although Colgate was unable to earn any points from the series, the Raiders still showed that they can compete with the best of Division I collegiate hockey.
The Raiders started last Friday’s game poorly, as the Lakers netted four goals in the first 15:23 of the game, three of which came on the power play. The first power play goal, which was scored by forward Meghan Agosta, broke Colgate’s streak of 26 consecutive killed power plays. Those four goals on 17 shots ended junior goalie Elayna Hamashuk’s night and first-year goalie Lisa Plenderleith took over in net. Despite outshooting Mercyhurst nine-to-five in the second period, the only goal came when Mercyhurst forward Viki Bendus took a pass from linemate Stephanie Jones and slid it by Plenderleith. That score was Mercyhurst’s last of the night, as Plenderleith finished the game with nine saves on ten shots. Colgate was able to avoid a shutout when first-year forward Hannah Milan received a cross-ice pass from junior forward Sam Hunt and beat senior goalie Laura Hosier for the goal at 2:11 of the third period. That would be the last goal of the game, as both goalies played well for the last 18 minutes of regulation to keep the score at 5-1 in favor of Mercyhurst.
In last Saturday’s game, Mercyhurst yet again jumped out to an early lead by scoring two first period goals – one each from forwards Hayley McMeekin and Valerie Chouinard. Mercyhurst took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but that lead would cut in half very quickly. Senior defender Mallory Johnston took a pass from junior forward Sam Hunt and put it past goalie Laura Hosier just thirty seconds into the second period. Mercyhurst answered right back with a goal by Agosta at 1:47. Not to be outdone, Hunt responded back 14 seconds later on an unassisted goal to slash the lead back to one. Colgate later tied the score when first-year forward Jacquie Colborne scored a power-play goal, the first of her collegiate career, with an assist from Johnston. Agosta pulled Mercyhurst ahead again by netting an even strength goal at 5:12 of the third period, but the quick-answer trend continued when senior forward Kara Leene knocked a Colborne pass by Hosier just seven seconds later. After Merychurst called a timeout at 8:51, Agosta continued to torment Colgate by completing her hat trick at 12:21. The Raiders called a timeout with about 2:30 left in the game to pull Plenderleith in hopes of answering back yet again with an extra attacker, but Meghan “Wayne Gretzky” Agosta hit the twine with 28 seconds remaining to seal the Lakers sweep and put a feather on top of her hat. Agosta now has a remarkable ten goals in just nine games for Mercyhurst this season.
Despite the slow start, Wiley still feels that the Raiders have the ability to exceed last season’s deep playoff run, pointing to the fact that last year’s start was similarly slow. Also, Wiley believes that the return of 19 letter winners means that the players will be able to fall back on last year’s experience to help turn the season around.
Colgate’s next game, its ECACHL opener, will be played on November 9th against Brown University at Starr Rink. The Raiders won both of their games against the Bears last year by 4-1 and 4-3 scores.