W. Hockey loses two to Panthers

This past Friday and Saturday, the Colby women’s hockey team took shelter in the arena amidst one of the coldest weekends in recent memory as they battled Middlebury in back-to-back games on the ice. Looking  to rebound from two hard-fought 2-1 losses against Connecticut College the previous  weekend, the Mules played their first game of the back to back on Friday. The Panthers have proven themselves as the frontrunners in the NESCAC this season with an undefeated record of 9-0-3 against NESCAC opponents going into Friday’s matchup. With only four losses on the season, Middlebury looked to add another win to their tally. Colby would not go down without a fight as they attempted an upset.

A scoreless first period left both teams hungry for a goal. Colby came out strong, firing 16 shots on the Panthers’ goalie. Their relentless attack set the tone for what would be a close battle down to the very end. Great goaltending on both sides kept the game close throughout. Colby goaltender Angelica Crites ’16 had 21 saves on the game while Middlebury goaltender Julia Neuburger amassed 29.

Colby broke the tie at 11:58 in the second period when Katie McLaughlin ’17 found the back of the net for  her ninth goal of the season. This much-needed goal gave the Mules momentum as they finished off the period clinging to their 1-0 lead. Stout defense and great goaltending by the Mules kept the Panthers scoreless deep into the third period. The Panthers put the puck past the Colby goalie with seven minutes left in the game as their leading scorer, Maddie Winslow, collected a pass from Jessica Young to tie the game at one  goal apiece. Just three minutes later, Middlebury scored what would end up being the winning goal with 3:52 left in the game. They again relied on Winslow to deliver, and she did, passing to Janka Hlinka, who quickly slid the puck past Crites. A tough loss for the Mules left them yearning to avenge themselves the following day in a rematch on home ice.

The second game brought a very similar scoreless first period. The Mules opened the game with aggressive play on defense, but lacked the same offensive outpour that had kept them alive the night before. Crites ended up with 26 saves while Middlebury’s Kiana Verplanke stepped up in net to make 18 saves. A more physical matchup led to a tie-breaking goal early in the second period. A costly penalty, one of Colby’s two for the game, gave Middlebury the power play they needed to break the tie. After winning the faceoff, the Panthers moved the puck around the crease before Elizabeth Wulf slid a pass across the net to Jessica Young for a one timer. Middlebury held on to their 1-0 lead for the duration of the game and ultimately tallied their 15th overall win for the season.

The Mules look to finish the season strong with a  matchup against Southern Maine on February 16. This resilient team  will surely try to turn things around after a disappointing weekend. Two hard-fought matchups against one of the top teams in the league takes its toll, but Colby Women’s Hockey will look to  bounce back in their next game.

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