Women’s Hockey Gaining Momentum

The Colgate women’s hockey team heads intoits most significant home weekend of the season with its third victory over a ranked opponent under the belt.

Coming off a mid-week thrashing of Cornell, the Raiders hosted the seventh-ranked Lakers of Mercyhurst on Saturday. However,one gameremoved from a contest in whichthey tallied four first period goals, the Raiders came out flat to start the game. Mercyhurst fired nine shots on net in the first session, and senior goaltender Rebecca Lahar was only able to stop six of them, giving the Lakers a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

“We got behind early,” head coach Scott Wiley explained. “They had a few power-play goals to start the game. That is always a hard thing to come back from.”

After Mercyhurst scored on a four-on-four to make the game 4-0, senior Amanda Barre made it a 4-1 game after scoring on the power play at 18:18 of the period. Junior linemates Becky Irvine and Allison Paiano notched assists on the play, bringing their combined total this season to 30.

Barre’s goal, unfortunately, would be Colgate’s only tallyof the game as they fell, 4-1. Lahar finished with 22 saves as the Raiders were out-shot, 26-15. Colgate hoped to lowerits amount of penalties for Sunday’s game, as the teamwas called to the box10 times.

On Sunday, Wiley switched up his netminders, subbing in sophomore Brook Wheeler for Lahar. The plan worked from the time the puck was dropped. The Raiders were able to weather the Laker storm, killing three penalties as Wheeler stopped 16 Mercyhurst shots. Although they found themselves tiedat zeroand out-shot, 16-5, the Raiders headed into intermission with momentum, something they had missed during Saturday’s game.

After killing a 5-on-3 penalty, the Raiders struck first as senior co-captain Cheryl Setchell took passes from classmate Maura Kehoe andfirst-year Mallory Johnston and buried her fourth goal of the season at 6:16 of the period.

At 16:21 of the period, Barre beat the Laker goalie for her team-leading 15th goal of the year, giving the Raiders a 2-0 lead. Paiano andfirst-year defender Kate Wolgemuth notched the assists. Wheeler and the Raider defense were the stars the rest of the game, preventing the Lakers from recording a single tally. Paiano added an empty-net goal with 50 seconds left, finishing Mercyhurst off and giving the Raiders a 3-0 victory.

“I think we played more aggressively on Sunday,” Wiley noted. “We tactically changed our game plan.”

The Raiders shut out the Lakers on the power-play, preventing them from scoring on any of their seven chances on Sunday. After the weekend, Colgate’s penalty kill improved to fifth in the ECACHL. The Raiders are killing 87.7 percentof their penalties this season.”Our penalty kill and power-play are getting better,” Wiley noticed. “I’m glad to see we are improving, because special teams are something that proves important down the stretch.”

Barre extended her point streak to10 games, a stretchin whichshe has scored10 goals and added six assists.

“She has proved very good around the net,” Wiley said about his star forward. “She’s been flourishing lately because she is getting her opportunities and is capitalizing on them. Amanda is a scorer, and scorers love hot streaks.”

Another star of Sunday’s game was Wheeler, who hadn’t played in seven games before taking her spot between the pipes against Mercyhurst. Wheeler stepped up, earning her third shutout of the season by stopping 43 shots, including three on breakaways. Wheeler is second in the nation with a .937 save percentage and fifth with a 1.70 goals against average. Her counterpart Lahar has been no slouch either, stopping 92 percentof shots and allowing just 1.86 goals per league game.

Colgate will need a strong goaltender and a potent offense to show up this weekend, as the Raiders host Yale and Princeton at Starr Rink. Wiley noted that the “revenge factor” will play a role this weekend against both Ivy League teams. Yale, who is in fourth place in the ECACHL, defeated Colgate, 2-1, in New Haven on December 4. The Bulldogs are 9-5-1 in the conference, but have lost nine of their last 12 games.

Princeton comes into the weekend ranked ninth in the nation, although the team isonly in sixth placein the ECACHL. Expect to see Wheeler in net for the Raiders on Saturday, as she was in net for the teams’ 0-0 tie on December 3 and fared well, stopping all 35 shots she faced. The Raiders host Yale tomorrow night at 7 p.m., while Colgate and Princeton face off at 4 p.m. Saturday. Both games are at Starr Rink.