W. Hockey pushing for fourth place as season winds down

The women’s hockey team swept their first NESCAC series of the season over the weekend, with consecutive 2-1 victories over Wesleyan University (8-12-1 overall, 3-10-1 NESCAC) at Alfond Arena. The two wins extended the Mules’ run to five in their last six games to put Colby at 13-9 overall and 5-9 in the conference as the Mules continue their push for a NESCAC playoff spot.

The Mules outlasted the ninth-ranked Cardinals on Friday, winning 2-1 in overtime courtesy of junior Katie Tang’s third goal of the season. Colby went ahead early on when Sasha Fritts ’18 scored just 1:59 into the first period from Kailey Buxbaum ’17 and Breanna Davis ’16. But the game would tighten up after that, with neither team able to create many chances for the rest of the period. Colby took more control of the game in the second, but couldn’t capitalize on their time in the Wesleyan zone. The Mules were pegged back against the run of play when Wesleyan’s leading scorer Jordan Schildhaus scored at 9:10 off of a rebound after a good initial save from Colby goaltender Jessica Thulin ’18 (18 saves).

A scoreless third period saw the Mules again dominate possession, but the Cardinals held on to force overtime, setting the stage for a dramatic finale. The Mules gained the zone early in the extra period and junior tri-captain Maddie Dewhirst skated down the left boards and fed a beautiful behind-the-back pass in front of the net for Tang to slot home.

Saturday was Senior Day for Colby, who honored Jackie Tavella, Lauren Guarente and Carolyn Fuwa before the game as the Mules fought for their third win in a row. After a scoreless first, Katie McLaughlin ’17 gave the Mules the lead 5:16 into the second period, assisted by Buxbaum and Davis. Five minutes later, Tavella celebrated her final home game by scoring a powerplay goal from Guarente and McLaughlin for her third goal of the season. The Mules used this momentum to forecheck effectively and the Cardinals couldn’t break out of their own zone for long stretches of the period.

Wesleyan turned up the pressure in the third with a string of decent chances. Yet Colby’s defense held up and Thulin was again impressive in goal, stopping a Wesleyan breakaway for one of her 22 saves. Colby frustrated the Cardinals for much of the period and Wesleyan was forced to pull their goalie for a sixth attacker to set up a tense final few minutes. After a scrum in front of the net, Schildhaus jammed the puck into the Colby net at 19:32. Unfazed, the Mules repelled the Cardinals for the remaining seconds to earn a special Valentine’s Day victory.

Colby will travel to Hamilton College for their final two games of the season before the NESCAC championships. Currently the seventh seed, the Mules can finish as high as fourth if all results go their way. But they will need at least one win on their travels or a Wesleyan loss to Trinity to ensure a spot in the playoffs.

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