Ephs edge Mules in OT thriller, 2-1

Ephs edge Mules in OT thriller, 2-1

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – After trailing for most of the game, the Ephs registered a critical equalizer to start the final frame, and took extra minutes to finish off the Mules, thanks to Michaela Levine's (Lititz, PA) game-winner with 46 seconds to go.

Coming off of a thundering 9-0 victory Tuesday night, the Williams College women's hockey team faced off against a strong Colby team (5-7-2) in a crucial NESCAC match up Friday evening. Looking to carry Tuesday's momentum into tonight's game, the Ephs did just that, prevailing 2-1 in overtime.

The opening frame featured quick, competitive play, with both sides generating scoring chances, but neither side was able was able to find the back of the net until 17 minutes in.

Mule forward Kailey Buxbaum (Medway, MA) took a shot from the left, which Eph goaltender Margaret Draper blocked, but Lauren Guarente (Wellesley, MA) was waiting on the doorstep to punch it in. The Guarente tally gave the Mules a slight 1-0 edge with just under three minutes to go in the opening frame. Katie McLaughlin (Glenburn, ME) also collected an assist on the play.

Despite outshooting the Mules 11-7, the Ephs headed into the first intermission down a goal.

The first penalty of the evening came five minutes into the 2nd period, giving Colby a man-up advantage and chance to extend their lead. The Eph penalty kill unit fended off the Colby offensive unit until a Mule penalty brought the game back to even strength. The Ephs would then take the 5-on-4 advantage for a minute and a half.

With 10 seconds remaining on the powerplay, Andree Heller (Toronto, ON) made a nifty move to get by a Colby defender and ripped a shot that went just high. It would be the Ephs best scoring chance of the period, which would conclude scoreless, leaving the game at 1-0 in favor of the away team.

The Eph shot advantage would eventually pay off in the opening minutes of the final frame. It was only a matter of time before the home team converted on one of their chances, and freshman defensemen Hanna Beattie (Whitehouse Station, NJ) did just that with 16:44 remaining in regulation. Gwendolyn Schultz (Wallingford, CT) set Beattie up, who ripped a shot from the center that goalie Brianne Wheeler (Brussels, ON) did not even see.

Head coach Meghan Gillis commented on her team's ability to even things out after trailing for so many minutes: "Colby has a very good goaltender, so it was just a matter of trying to solve her and to make sure we were doing a good job of getting pucks to the net and then trying to capitalize on some of those rebounds that we didn't capitalize on in the first two periods." 

With 11 minutes to go, it looked as if the Mules would take their second lead of the night off a shot that hit the crossbar. The puck stayed just out of the goal, and the contest stayed deadlocked at 1. 

The remaining minutes of regulation would be scoreless, but far from eventful, as both offenses kept the pressure on and saw great scoring opportunities. Draper and counterpart Wheeler remained sturdy between the pipes and kept the battle knotted up at 1.

The Ephs came out firing in overtime, seizing the momentum and seeing multiple game-winning chances before eventually securing it with 46 seconds to go. Levine strung together a beautiful play and lifted the puck top shelf to seal the deal.

Wheeler rounded out the night with 37 saves, while Draper turned away 22 of the 23 shots that came her way. 

The Ephs move to 8-6-1 overall and an impressive 5-1-1 in the conference after tonight's win.

They face off against the Mules once again tomorrow afternoon in Lansing Chapman Rink at 3pm.

"Tomorrow will be another battle as it always is in the NESCAC. We're looking to come out mentally prepared and ready to work for the full 60 minutes," stated Gillis.

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