Women's Hockey: Depth, early goals propel Bobcats to sweep
The women’s ice hockey team fought hard but dropped both games this weekend when it faced off against ECAC rival Quinnipiac in a home-and-home weekend double header. Princeton (4-10-2 overall, 2-8-2 ECAC) remains within qualifying range for the postseason conference tournament, but with only six points and a close middle of the pack, they must be vigilant to maintain their position.
The Bobcats moved into first place in the league with 17 points, improving their season record to 12-7-2 overall and 8-3-1 in the ECAC. Quinnipiac has given the Tigers a tough time over the past few years, winning the last six matchups between the two teams including both of this weekend’s competitions.
One challenge facing the Tigers this season is a short bench. With only 19 athletes listed on the roster including three goalies, the other 16 players will be required to step up and put forth their maximum effort, playing for more time than is being asked of many of their better rested opponents. Three additional skaters saw ice time in both games this weekend for Quinnipiac compared to Princeton.
“Having a shorter bench is a definite factor that other teams try to take advantage of,” sophomore forward Brianna Leahy said. “That being said, our team is in great shape and we know how to play smart and are used to playing tired.”
Last week, Princeton freshman starting goalie Kimberly Newell was announced as a member of the Canadian U-18 team and will represent her country at the 2013 IHFF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship held over winter break in Finland. Princeton’s own head coach Jeff Kampersal ’92 coaches the Canadian squad. Eight countries are competing in the tournament, and all eyes are on the reigning world champions Canada and the U.S. team, who have combined to win the tournament every year since its inception in 2008.
Home at Baker Rink Friday afternoon, Princeton was unable to complete its comeback after digging themselves a hole too deep to climb out of, a recurring theme this season. Two minutes into the game, the Bobcats got an early lead after converting on a power play. Halfway through the first period, the visitors struck again, putting away a rebound. The third consecutive goal occurred off of the initial faceoff play only 14 seconds into the second period.
Down by three, the Tigers spent nearly 40 minutes trying to come back. At the end of the second period, senior captain and forward Kelly Cooke struck for her 10th goal of the season with help from junior defenseman Gabie Figueroa and senior forward Corey Stearns. Cooke leads the team in scoring and Stearns leads the team in assists with 18. Junior forward Sally Butler fired a shot on net at the start of the third, but it was deflected out back into play where Leahy collected it from her knees and sent it past the Bobcat keeper. Behind by only one goal and with momentum on their sides, the game seemed to be taking a turn in favor of the Tigers. However, despite more good shot opportunities and pulling the goalie, Princeton was unable to even the score, and Quinnipiac earned Friday’s 3-2 victory. The Tigers were outshot 25-19 and failed to convert on their two power plays.
“On Friday, we controlled a lot of the game and were winning the one-on-one battles,” Leahy said. “Once everyone was following the game plan, we were able to capitalize when we got the chances.”
On the road for the first time in over three weeks, Princeton traveled to Quinnipiac Saturday afternoon hoping to get revenge for Friday’s loss. The Bobcats were in good form again, shutting out the Tigers and taking the second game of the series 4-0. Though a strong suit for most of the early part of this season, Princeton did not convert any of their four power-play opportunities and were outshot 48-21. A big effort by Newell with 15 saves kept the score tied 0-0 in the first period. Quinnipiac was able to finish in the opening minutes of the second and twice more before the period ended to go ahead by three. The fourth and final goal for the Bobcats came late in the third period, sealing Quinnipiac’s second win of the weekend over the Tigers.
“On Saturday, we definitely weren’t as sharp and Quinnipiac capitalized on our mistakes,” Leahy said.
The three weeks before the next competition will give the Tigers the opportunity to both rest and recover and regain focus before they hit the ice in their next set of games in early January.
“We are all looking forward to see our families and give our bodies a rest,” Leahy said. “When we come back from break, everyone is always well rested and excited to get back on the ice.”
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