Women’s hockey snags 3 home points

The women’s ice hockey team had to settle for a split this weekend, but it continues to hold steady in the conference as it enters the season homestretch.

The Bulldogs (9-8-4, 6-6-2 ECAC) suffered a tough 4-1 loss to Colgate (9-11-4, 6-5-3) on Friday evening at Ingalls Rink. But the defeat didn’t stay with them for long — the very next evening, the home squad rolled over Cornell (9-10-1, 6-7-1) in a decisive 5-0 shutout. With the weekend’s two points under their belts, the Elis held onto their sixth-place slot in the conference, with 14 points, while the Raiders moved up to fifth place, with 15.

“I think we’re looking really good in the ECAC standings right now,” goaltender Jackee Snikeris ’11 said. “And I think that this weekend coming up, we’ll really show what we’ve got.”

The Bulldogs took to the ice Friday tied for sixth with Colgate in the ECAC standings. Moreover, the last time the two teams met, the Elis lost in overtime, 3-2, with the Raiders’ narrow escape indicating how closely matched the teams were. At the beginning of the first period, neither side seemed able to gain much of an advantage over the other.

But at 9:40, Raider forward Elin Brown tipped a rebound over goaltender Shivon Zilis ’08 to put the visitors on the board. A string of Bulldog penalties, at 10:06, 13:01 and 15:06, made things tricky, but Zilis did not allow another goal before the buzzer sounded. Both teams had eight shots on goal in the first stanza.

Just over three minutes into the second, though, a Colgate power play gave the visitors the chance they needed. Raiders defender Kiira Dosdall, assisted by forward Sam Hunt and Brown, fired the puck over Zilis’ shoulder to give Colgate the 2-0 lead. The Elis fought back with a power-play goal of their own at 9:14, courtesy of a well aimed rebound by forward/defender Maggie Westfal ’09.

But the close game got away from the home squad in the third period, when Colgate forward Marissa Dombovy found the back of the net at the 13-minute mark. The Bulldogs pulled Zilis to take their chances with the extra attacker, but the Raiders took advantage of the empty net when Hunt slipped one in with just 36 seconds to go. The buzzer sounded soon after, handing the Elis the disappointing 4-1 defeat.

The next day saw the Bulldogs facing another close rival. The Big Red, fresh off a 5-1 victory over Brown (3-14-4, 2-9-3), had eked past the Elis in the conference standings thanks to the two-point win. But although Cornell outshot the home team, 11-6, in the first, only the Bulldogs managed to get on the board in the opening stanza. Defender/forward Lili Rudis ’11, assisted by defender Carry Resor ’09, beat out Big Red goaltender Katie Wilson to score her first career goal at 5:06.

It wasn’t until the second period that the Elis seized control of the game. Just two minutes into the stanza, defender Alyssa Clarke ’10 snagged a rebound off a blocked shot by Resor and smashed it in to make it 2-0. Cornell sent in relief netminder Kayla Strong soon after the goal, but Westfal solved her at 4:32, slotting one in to make it 3-0.

The domination did not stop even there — forward Crysti Howser ’09 knocked in a goal of her own at 9:48, assisted by forward Mandi Schwartz ’10 and Westfal. And with about three minutes to play in the second period, forward/defender Caroline Murphy ’10 notched her third goal of the season, giving the Bulldogs a comfortable 5-0 advantage.

“What was satisfying about the game against Cornell was the way the entire team responded to the challenge,” associate head coach Harry Rosenholtz said. “The fact that we had five different goal scorers was reflective of the attitude on the team that everyone needed to step up and take their game to another level, and that if we worked together in a disciplined, smart way, we would be successful.”

The Big Red made another goalie replacement in the third, sending in Jenny Niesluchowski, who kept the Bulldogs from scoring again. But thanks to 28 game saves by Snikeris, Cornell could gain no ground on the Elis, and the game ended with the 5-0 score still intact. It was Snikeris’s fourth shutout of the year.

With the win, the Bulldogs squeaked ahead of the Big Red in the conference, reclaiming their sixth-place slot. Although the weekend ahead promises to be tough — they will face Dartmouth (11-7-3, 8-5-1) and first-place Harvard (17-1, 14-0) — with continued team coherency, they should be able to continue holding their ground — or even to begin to forge ahead.

“I think we realized [Saturday] that getting to the playoffs was not guaranteed to us, and if we want to get there we need to work for it,” Westfal said. “We came together as a team before the game and made it a goal to get a win, but more importantly, to work as a team to get it. I think our team play in the Cornell game, especially in the last two periods, was the best it has been all year.”

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