Women’s Hockey Takes Conference Title: Raiders Finish Regular Season With Back-to-Back Victories

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With the women’s hockey team’s regular season now complete with a set of victories over Rensselaer and Union, as No.1 seed in the ECAC the team prepares to host No. 7 Harvard in the first round of playoffs. 

Cassie Warwick, Maroon-News Staff

This past weekend, the Raiders faced the Rensselaer Engineers on Friday, February 16 and the Union Dutchwomen on Saturday, February 17. With a 3-2 win over Rensselaer and a 6-1 win over Union, the team finished the season 29-4-1, securing the title of ECAC conference champions. 

On Friday, the Raiders travelled to Troy, N.Y. to win their fifth consecutive game against Rensselaer. Junior forward Shae Labbe netted a wrist shot just 2:37 into the game, one of two goals scored in the first period. The second goal came from junior defender Olivia Zafuto with 4:56 left in the first period. Junior goaltender Julia Vandyk made many impressive saves to keep the Engineers scoreless until the final period. 

With her fifteenth goal of the season, first-year forward Malia Schneider increased the Colgate lead to 3-0 in the final period. However, Rensselaer did not give up. The Engineers scored two goals towards the end of the third period, making it a one-score game. The Raiders worked hard in the final minutes to hold off the Engineers and secure the win. 

This win against Rensselaer set two program records, Greg Fargo’s 100th win as head coach at Colgate, and making it an impressive 286:51 minutes without allowing a goal against them. Another impressive statistic came from Zafuto, who recorded the most points by any defender in the nation. Labbe also had an impressive night: she not only scored the first goal of the contest, but assisted the other two as well. 

“Shae took control tonight. I thought her and her line were great for us again. They really can push the pace for us. Every time she had the puck tonight she was really challenging the opposition. She was taking the puck to the scoring area and got the results tonight,” head coach Greg Fargo said of Labbe’s performance.

On Saturday, February 17 in Schenectady, N.Y., the Raiders became conference champions for the first time in program history. Colgate shares the title with Clarkson, as both teams finished with 38 points. The Raiders were scoreless until 10:37 into the first period, when junior forward Jessie Eldridge put the puck past the Union goaltender. Eldridge finished with three points, two goals and one assist. 

As the game progressed, the Raiders took a 4-0 lead, with goals by Eldridge and senior forwards Shelby Perry and Breanne Wilson-Bennett. The Dutchwomen scored their only goal in the third period. Vandyk recorded 21 saves for 22 shots faced, finishing the season with a .934 save percentage. 

Fargo discussed the team’s progress over several years, which ultimately culminated in becoming conference champions.

“It’s a lot small steps forward over the course of the last six years. You don’t get here overnight. It’s all the steps that took place before I got here, all the Colgate women’s ice hockey alums that poured their heart into it, the past coaches and everything that took place before I got here. Our program has been surrounded by great people pushing this thing ahead day by day. That’s what it’s been – a big vision and small steps and small victories along the way. I’m just really fortunate to be around these people and to share this with them today,” Fargo said.

The Raiders are set to host Harvard in the opening round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs beginning Friday, February 23. Colgate will face Harvard Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with the winner of two games moving forward in the playoffs.

Contact Cassie Warwick at cwarwick@colgate.edu.