After splitting two hard-fought games with ECACHL foes Vermont and Dartmouth, the Raider women’s hockey team enters perhaps its most important road weekend left in the season against upstate rivals Clarkson and St. Lawrence. On Fri. Colgate traveled to Burlington to face-off against the lowly Catamounts, who were without a win in ECACHL play and in the midst of a 14-game winless streak. However, it was the green and gold that lit the lamp first, slipping the puck past senior goaltender Rebecca Lahar just four minutes into the game. The Raiders, who have a tendency to come out slow in the first period, bounced back in the second period when senior Amanda Barre buried a rebound from sophomore defenseman Tara French. Junior forward Allison Paiano also assisted on the goal. The Raiders got on the board again five minutes into the third period. Barre netted her second goal of the game, with French tallying her second assist. With 10 minutes left to play, first-year Kara Leene put home her second goal this season to put the game out of reach. Lahar kept the net guarded for the rest of the game and ended up with 14 saves. Although seniors Barre and Lahar starred for the Raiders, younger players played strong supporting roles. Sophomore French tallied three assists while four first-years were put on the ice to start the game. “Now that it’s the second semester,” head coach Scott Wiley explained, “these girls aren’t first-years anymore. Cassie Reid has the ability to score big goals, like the game-winner she had against Brown.” First-year defensemen Mallory Johnston and Kate Wolgemuth have been steady at the blue-line, skating on both the power-play and penalty-kill units. Leene, a native of Waterbury, VT, has shown the most promise as of late. “Kara has steadily improved all year,” Wiley said, “I think she was relieved to get the goal-scoring monkey off her back. She also scored in her home state, which was fun to see. She definitely works very hard at improving her game.” Having lost to second-ranked Dartmouth, 4-3, in their November meeting, the Raiders traveled to New Hampshire the next day eager to show that their first match-up with the Big Green was not a fluke. Dartmouth is having a successful season, to say the very least. The Big Green came into Saturday’s match-up 11-0-0 in the ECACHL and 18-1-0 overall, with their one loss coming in overtime to defending national champion and top ranked Minnesota. Dartmouth averaged six goals a game in ECACHL play, a statistic that makes any goalie’s legs shudder under their heavy pads. However, Wiley assured that the team did not feel intimidated. “We knew that they were an explosive team full of great scorers,” Wiley explained. “But our team always seems to get up for Dartmouth. They tend to rise to the occasion.”Unfortunately for the Raiders, its first period woes continued as Dartmouth flexed their muscles in the opening period, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Dartmouth pummeled Lahar all period, out-shooting Colgate, 13-2. In the first session this season, the Raiders have been outscored 23-7. However, before the game got out of hand, Paiano scored on a breakaway off a pass from junior Becky Irvine just five minutes in the second. After Dartmouth scored their third goal of the game, the Raiders again headed into the intermission down two tallies. It seemed bleak for Colgate, as it was unable to score through most of the final period. But it was French who continued her hot streak, scoring with just six minutes left in the game, with assists going to Irvine and Barre. Lahar kept Dartmouth out of the net for the rest of the game, but Colgate was unable to score again, falling 3-2. “I think we played well,” Wiley said. “We were able to limit their odd man rushes, especially after they scored four breakaway goals against Cornell the night before.”Lahar, who was named ECACHL Goalie of the Week after allowing just four goals on the weekend, stopped 24 shots in the loss; Colgate was only able to muster 11 shots. Lahar, who has given up 1.25 goals in League games this year, will most likely be starting in net for this weekend’s games, while sophomore Brook Wheeler looks on. Colgate, owners of the worst power-play in the conference, look to improve on that stat against two very different opponents this weekend.Today’s game against hard-working Clarkson may be the most important of the season for the Raiders, who are in seventh place in the ECACHL, one point above the Golden Knights.Tomorrow the Raiders face-off against Wiley’s alma mater, the flashier St. Lawrence Saints, who have won nine of their last 10 and are currently ranked fifth in the nation.