Women’s Hockey Tries on Cinderella Slipper



Heading into its last two games of the regular season, the Colgate women’s hockey team was tied for fifth place in the ECACHL with Brown and Princeton. After taking three points at home from St. Lawrence and Clarkson, the Raiders were shocked to see that they had fallen two places in the standings, a drop that has them traveling to take on nationally-ranked Dartmouth in the first round of the ECACHL playoffs. The Raiders had hoped to get a leg up on their league rivals with a strong showing against St. Lawrence on Friday night. The Saints, ranked fifth in the country, were coming off a disappointing weekend in which they had lost to Brown and tied Harvard. Coming out strong to start the game, St. Lawrence got onto the board first, slipping the puck past sophomore goaltender Brook Wheeler to give the Saints a 1-0 advantage. The Raiders, who have a habit of coming out of the gate slowly, responded with firepower of their own just 11 seconds later as senior wing Kristin Cirbus netted her first goal of the season in her final weekend at Starr Rink. Senior Kristy MacDonald and classmate Cheryl Setchell each picked up assists on the goal, which knotted the game at 1-one. Senior Amanda Barre continued her stellar senior season, adding her team-leading 20th goal of the year at 10:12 of the first session. A few minutes later, junior Allison Paiano did something no Raider has done in a Division-I game: she took a penalty shot. Better yet, she made it. After Barre was taken down on a breakaway, Paiano capitalized on the opportunity and gave Colgate a 3-1 lead heading into the second. “I thought we played well in the first period,” head coach Scott Wiley said after the game. “We were definitely the better team in the first.”After the Saints cut the lead to 3-2 in the second period, they continued to claw their way back into the game at the start of the final stanza. After battling back and forth for three minutes, the Saints struck twice, scoring just 3:31 into the period, tying the game at three, and then again just 11 seconds later to take the lead. On a weekend where the seniors on the team were being celebrated, the Raider underclassmen came up big near the end of the game. Paiano registered her third point of the night by putting home a pass from sophomore defensemen Tara French. With the game tied at four, the Raiders turned to their netminder for support. Wheeler played beyond her years, stopping 12 of the 14 shots she faced in the third. Each goaltender made two saves each in the overtime period as the game ended in a 4-4 tie. “I think we played hard from the start,” Wiley noted. “But St. Lawrence is a great team with a lot of skill. We are not always used to playing with a lead and ended up letting them back into the game.”The Raiders faced off the next afternoon against Clarkson. The Raiders came out a little slower than on Friday, but still managed to scrap together a few goals in the first session. First-year Kara Leene scored a power-play goal at 9:40 to give the Raiders a lead halfway through the first. The tally, Leene’s fourth of the year, was assisted by Irvine and Barre. Leene then found senior Maura Kehoe at 16:24 as Kehoe put the biscuit in the basket for the sixth time this season. Sophomore forward Ashley Bradford was also accredited with an assist on the goal, her second of the season. The Raiders looked a little winded the rest of the game. With five minutes left in the second period, the Golden Knights scored on the power play, cutting the Raider lead in half. For the rest of the game, however, Colgate relied on senior goalie Rebecca Lahar, who shined in her last game on Starr Rink. Lahar stopped all 11 shots she faced in the third period, as Colgate was able to escape with a 2-1 win. “We were tired,” Wiley explained. “We came out a little flat, but played well enough to win. It’s usually a sign of a good team if they can win without playing their best.”Although the team on the ice Saturday looked a lot different than Friday’s squad, the Raiders were able to pick up two points from Clarkson and give the team’s seniors a victory in their final game at Starr Rink. This year’s seniors leave having been the first class to play all four seasons in Division-I. “Our group of seniors has been the cornerstone of this program for the last four years,” Wiley said. “They are the reason we have been successful.”Although their weekend was more than successful, the Raiders dropped two spots in the ECACHL standings after Brown and Princeton each recorded four points. The result of the fall means that the Raiders will be playing Dartmouth, who is ranked fourth in the nation. Although they had an exceptionally hot start to the season, the Big Green’s recent record gives hope for Colgate. Dartmouth started out the season 20-1, but has sputtered recently, losing four out of its last seven games. The Raiders narrowly missed upsetting Dartmouth twice this season, falling 4-3 at Starr Rink and 3-2 in Hanover, NH. Colgate’s stingy defense, which ranks second in the ECACHL by allowing two goals per game, hopes to slow Dartmouth’s attack, which is tops in the nation with 4.86 goals per contest. “We try to be peaking at the end of the season,” Wiley explained about his Raiders, who are unbeaten in their last seven games. “It helps gain confidence. We have realized that we can compete with the best in the league.”Looking to be the Cinderella of the tournament, the Raiders face off in Hanover this afternoon, where their best-of-three series begins at 3:30 p.m. Wiley and the Raiders will have to wait and see if the glass slipper fits.