Women’s Hockey Finds Footing

Rob O'Connor

With a weekend sweep of league foes Brown and Yale under its belt, the Raider women’s hockey team had two big reasons to be happy. First, the sweep gives the Raiders a 2-0 record in the ECACHL. Secondly, it marks the first time the team has ever defeated two Ivy League schools in one weekend.

In Friday’s 3-0 win over Brown, Colgate dominated from the opening face-off, out-shooting Brown 17-3 in a scoreless first period. Seven minutes into the second period, Raider sophomore Cassie Reid split two defenders and exploded on a breakaway, sending a high shot that nicked the far side post and fell in for a goal. Ten minutes later, with Brown shorthanded, Reid sent a drop pass to first-year Sam Hunt, who slid the puck past Brown’s O’Hara Shipe with the help of a screen from junior Carly McNaughton.

Ten minutes into the third period, Hunt capitalized on another power play opportunity. Sophomore Mallory Johnston delivered a cross-ice pass to Hunt, whose initial shot bounced off a Brown defender’s shin pad and right back to her stick. Hunt made her second shot count, as she rocketed the puck past Shipe.

Junior goaltender Brooke Wheeler made 20 saves in her first shutout of the season, but she credits her fantastic goaltending to the Raiders’ solid performance.

“The shutout against Brown was by no means a result of goaltending,” Wheeler said. “It was a total team effort.”

As a reward for her (and her team’s) efforts, Wheeler was given ECACHL Goaltender of the Week honors.

The Raiders’ 4-2 victory over the Yale Bulldogs on Saturday completed the sweep. Just five minutes into the first period, on Colgate’s first power play attempt of the game, Reid circled behind the Yale net and dropped a pass to McNaughton, who sent a straight shot over the shoulder of Yale goalie Sarah Love and into the back of the net.

Under three minutes later, senior Becky Irvine corralled the puck as both teams were making line changes. With open ice ahead of her, she skated unchallenged to the net and pounded the puck past Love to give the Raiders a 2-0 lead.

Colgate opened the second period just as they had played the first. Off a feed from first-year Kiira Dosdall, Johnston battled a Yale defender but still managed to fire a shot towards the net. Reid was once again there for the Raiders, as the sophomore tipped the puck into the net for Colgate’s second power-play goal of the game and fourth of the weekend.

The Bulldogs, however, would not go quietly. At 9:20 in the second stanza, with Colgate playing a man down, the Bulldogs charged in a two-on-one breakaway. Yale’s Kristen Stupay shot a cross-ice pass to Jenna Spring, who was able to find the upper right corner of the net and get her team on the scoreboard. Then, with five minutes remaining in the period, teammate Kristin Savard picked up the puck off of a face-off and beat Wheeler again.

Holdings a nail-biting 3-2 lead over the Bulldogs and little margin for error, Wheeler stopped 12 shots in the third period while the Raiders held off Yale. Unable to penetrate the Raider defense or Wheeler’s goaltending, Yale pulled its goaltender with two minutes left in the third, only to have Raider junior Ashley Bradford capitalize on the open net with an unassisted goal.

“It was the first game that we really all came together as a team,” Wheeler said after the win.

Raider head coach Scott Wiley was also optimistic about the remainder of the season. “With eight freshmen, our team is young,” he said, “but our new crop is the most talented we have ever had.” And with the team gaining experience game-by-game, expect great things from the women’s hockey team this season.