Leene Mean Scoring Machine Leads Women’s Hockey

Coming into the weekend, the Colgate women’s hockey team knew that a loss to Union would have resulted in severe embarrassment. With their only victories coming against unsuccessful programs such as Sacred Heart and Robert Morris, the Dutchwomen amassed a 3-22-1 record heading into last weekend, including a 0-18-0 mark in the ECACHL. Last weekend the Raiders, jostling for a position in the ECACHL playoffs, thrashed Union twice in their final regular season games at Starr Rink.

The Raider women did not waste any time, coming out firing on all cylinders to start Friday’s game. At the 9:16 mark of the first period, sophomore Kara Leene notched her fourth goal of the season off a pass from junior Carly McNaughton. Colgate padded its lead three minutes later as senior Allison Paiano put home a shorthanded tally off of assists by classmate Becky Irvine and junior Tara French. When the first period ended, the Raiders had out-shot the Dutchwomen, 16-7.

The scoring continued for Colgate in the second period. Junior Ashley Bradford scored her third goal of the season with assists going to first-year Clancy Todd and Paiano. Paiano tallied her second goal of the game, lighting the lamp after a pass from Irvine, and she completed the hat trick with a goal just 2:52 into the final session, helping the Raiders cruise to a 6-1 victory.

With her four points, Paiano

moved into second place on Colgate’s all-time career scoring list. The Orleans, Ontario, native is also second all-time in goals scored.

Junior goaltender Brooke Wheeler stopped 13 of 14 shots in net, as she improved her record this season to 9-10-5. Wheeler was not tested often by the Union offense, which was part of the team’s original game plan.

“We wanted to put pressure on Union right away,” head coach Scott Wiley said. “The whole week we wanted to test our game plan early and work on things he had been trying in practice.”

In the second game of the weekend, the Raiders did not let up on the Dutchwomen, as Colgate’s three seniors – Paiano, Irvine and goalie Melanie Barclay – went out in style. Despite not seeing much playing time this season, Barclay started in net for her final home game in a Raider uniform. The decision ended up paying off as the Raiders sailed to a 9-0 afternoon slaughtering. Leene tallied a career-high five points, including four goals, and first-year Sam Hunt had four points and set a Raider first-year scoring record with 31 points. Barclay finished with the shutout, stopping nine shots for her second career victory.

“I don’t think we play particularly well in the first period,” Wiley said. “In the second we had four goals in a couple minutes which put us out in front. After that we were able to work on things for the playoffs as we knew we had the victory wrapped up.”

The Raiders’ three seniors ended their home careers on a high note, capping four solid years with two final victories on the ice of Starr Rink. Paiano finished the regular season with 29 points this season, second on the team, and Irvine was right behind her with 26 points.

“Our seniors are three unique people but similar in a lot of ways,” Wiley explained. “Becky and Allison are hard working and very talented, while Mel is impressive for what she does off the ice. She is one of the best team players we have ever had. It is poetic justice that she was able to get the shutout on Saturday.”

With those two victories under their belt, the Raiders finish out the regular season in a tie with Dartmouth for sixth place in the ECACHL. Next weekend, Colgate will travel to Princeton to take on the Tigers, who are ranked second in the ECACHL and fifth in the nation with a 19-6-4 record on the season.

“Princeton has great team speed,” Wiley said of the Tigers, who have won 10 of their last 11 games. “Lucky for us, all the pressure seems to be on them.”

The Tigers have defeated the Raiders twice this season, by scores of 6-2 and 2-1. The best-of-three series begins Friday at 7 p.m. and continues through Sunday, if necessary.

“It’s going to be tough, but it’s a whole new season for us,” Wiley said. “If we can score first, anything can happen.”