One could say that it was a slap in the face. On January 21, the Raider women’s hockey team traveled to Canton, NY and upset the third-ranked St. Lawrence Saints, 3-0 on their home ice, despite being out-shot, 51-12. To add insult to injury, each Raider goal was shorthanded. It would be a gross understatement to say that the Saints had a chip on their shoulder heading into Friday’s game at Starr Rink.
The first period went well for the Raiders. The Saints pummeled junior netminder Brooke Wheeler with 18 shots while Colgate was only able to muster five the whole period; however, Wheeler was able to keep the puck out of the net and the teams headed into the intermission deadlocked at zero.
“I felt like we did a good job in the first period,” head coach Scott Wiley said. “After beating them earlier this season we knew that they would come out ready for us.”
The second period, however, did not go as planned for the Raiders. After holding the Saints off for nearly 10 minutes, St. Lawrence finally put one past Wheeler on the power play to take a 1-0 lead with 7:25 left in the period. Just over three minutes later, the Saints found the back of the net again with a low shot on Wheeler’s stick side. After sprinting out to a 2-0 lead with less than four minutes left in the period, the Saints were not finished lighting the lamp. With 1:35 left before intermission, St. Lawrence’s Lisa Batchelor intercepted a Raider pass and put the puck past Wheeler on the breakaway.
“After they scored their first goal, we didn’t react as well as we could have,” Wiley noted. “They did a great job of keeping the pressure on us.”
St. Lawrence picked up where it left off in the third session. Less than one minute into the period, the Saints added another tally to widen their lead to four goals. The Raiders seemed focused on avoiding the shutout, as they continued to force offensive chances. First-year Sam Hunt, Colgate’s leading scorer this season, took a pass from classmate Clancy Todd and put away her 14th tally of the season. First-year Kiira Dosdall also assisted on the score, her sixth of the season. The lone goal of the period was as close as the Raiders were going to get, however, as they fell to the Saints by a 4-1 margin.
“We are a really good team when we score first,” Wiley said after the loss. “If we had managed to get the job done, it would have been a different game. St. Lawrence was definitely more prepared this time around.”
The Raiders hosted their second top-10 opponent of the weekend on Saturday when the Golden Knights of Clarkson came to Starr Rink. The Raiders seemed to come out stronger in the first period, firing nine shots on net while only letting up four.
“Our players realized we didn’t play well on the road at Clarkson,” Wiley said. “We came out hard and put the pressure on early.”
Over six minutes into the period, first-year Elin Brown notched her seventh goal of the season after a pass from Hunt landed on her stick. In the second period, Colgate extended its lead to two goals when senior Allison Paiano took a pass from classmate Becky Irvine and netted a shorthanded goal with a minute left in the period.
Wheeler and the Raider defense held Clarkson scoreless for the rest of the game, as Colgate emerged with a 2-0 upset. Wheeler’s 22 saves marked her sixth career shutout and improved her record to 8-8-5 on the season. For her weekend accomplishments, the Brussels, Ontario, native was awarded ECACHL Goaltender of the Week honors.
“She’s had a good year,” Wiley noted of Wheeler, who has posted a 2.43 GAA and .918 save percentage this season. “She thrives in an environment where there is competition,” he added, referring to the presence of first-year Elayna Hamashuk, who has a 1.65 GAA and .942 save percentage in her first year.
This weekend, the Raiders have two tough tests as they take to the road to face off with Dartmouth and Harvard, two teams that Colgate has historically struggled against. Tonight, Colgate heads to Hanover, NH to take on the Big Green, who are 9-10-4 on the season. Despite a losing record, Wiley said his group will not be taking Dartmouth lightly.
“They have been bitten by the injury bug this season,” Wiley said about the Big Green, who are 14-0-1 all-time against Colgate. “But they are a well-coached, veteran group.”
The Raiders travel to Cambridge, MA tomorrow to take on Harvard, a team that comes into the weekend ranked fifth in the ECACHL and 10th in the nation. Historically, the Crimson have played well against the Raiders as well, owning an 8-0-1 record, including a 5-1 victory in Hamilton on January 7. With only four games left in the regular season, the Raiders, who sit seventh place in the ECACHL, face an important road trip this weekend.
“Good results this weekend can control where we finish in the conference,” Wiley explained. “We have to come out strong in order to win.”