PINE VALLEY, NY – Defending National Champions, the Elmira Eagles, hosted the Williams College Ephs in a non-conference matchup Saturday afternoon. Looking to break Elmira's (5-1-1) four-game win streak, Williams (1-3-0) had few answers to the relentless Eagle offense and dropped the contest, 5-1.
After taking nearly 18 minutes to get on the scoreboard, Elmira took off in the second and third periods. The home team built a comfortable 5-0 lead before the Ephs were able to find the back of the net, thanks to Cristina Bravi's (Montreal, QC) unassisted goal.
It was a fast moving contest from the start, and went without penalties or major scoring opportunities until late in the first period. Head coach Meghan Gillis said of the opening frame, "We generated a lot of offense and had a couple of pucks that trickled just across the goal-line but stayed out somehow. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get a goal in the first period and that shifted the momentum in the second. Elmira played great and capitalized on their chances on special teams and we were unable to capitalize on ours."
The first penalty of the contest came with 2:26 remaining, and it proved to be an important one. Interference called against Williams put Elmira into powerplay mode, and they quickly took advantage of the man-up chance. Brooke Wilgosh (Regina, SK) fed teammate Ashton Hogan (Shelburne, ONT), who slipped the puck past Eph netminder Charlie Billadeau (Chaska, MN) to give the home team a 1-0 advantage. Ashley Ryan (Rochester, NY) also picked up an assist on the play, which came at the 18:15 mark.
Elmira outshot the Ephs 16-8 during the opening frame, and held a slight 1-0 advantage thanks to their aggressive play.
The Eagles picked up right where they left off to open the middle frame. 3:13 into the period, Tanis Lamoureux (Canton, MI) slid a pass to forward Cassidy Delainey (Edmonton, AB), who converted on the play and extended her team's lead to 2-0. Katie Gaskin (Pickering, ONT) also collected an assist on the goal.
The Elmira offense continued their onslaught, and found the back of the net for the fourth time at the 11:19 mark. Lamoureux and Ryan were involved once again, this time Ryan registering the goal on a helper from Lamoureux. It was their second shorthanded goal of the afternoon.
Despite seeing five powerplay chances throughout the second period, the Ephs failed to generate any sort of offensive momentum and could not break down the strong Elmira penalty kill unit. Lisa Marshall (Powhatan, VA) proved to be a brick wall in between the pipes for the Eagles.
"Their goalie played great, and we just weren't able to bury any rebounds that we had," commented Gillis on the multiple man-up opportunities.
The home squad would skate into the locker room with a comfortable four-goal advantage.
The Eagles went to work at the start of the final frame. 7:22 in, Olivia Nystrom (Vaxhol, Sweden) set up Johanna Eidensten (Taby, Sweden) to give Elmira a 5-0 lead.
Undeterred, the Ephs were able to penetrate the solid Elmira defense for the first time of the afternoon and break Marshall's shut out opportunity, as they answered to the Eidensten goal 20 seconds later. Senior captain Bravi caused a turnover and then went on a breakaway before putting the puck through the legs of Marshall to get the Ephs on the scoreboard. Bravi's tally, her fourth of the season, came 7:54 in. She has been an offensive force, registering a goal in all four games this season.
Despite the offensive momentum provided by Bravi's goal, the deficit would prove to be too great for the Ephs to overcome, leaving the score finalized at 5-1.
Billadeau turned away 36 shots of the 41 directed at her, while Marshall collected 31 saves on the afternoon.
The Ephs will hit the road once again next Saturday for another non-conference matchup against University of New England. Game time is set for 4pm.