WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams women's hockey team (11-7-2) never trailed in the contest, but a resilient Amherst squad (11-5-4) matched each of the Ephs' two scores, including a goal in the final seconds of regulation, to send the game into overtime. Neither team could notch the game-winning goal.
The Ephs were looking to earn a split on the weekend after last night's 6-2 loss to the Lord Jeffs, and it looked within reach until Eileen Harris' (Winnetka, IL) goal with 3 seconds to go. The Ephs now have a NESCAC conference record of 8-2-2, and Amherst holds a 7-2-3 conference record.
After nearly 20 minutes of scoreless play, the Ephs broke the ice first. As head coach Meghan Gillis had hoped for, her team was able to take advantage of their powerplay chances, doing just that with 1:48 remaining in the period. 17 seconds after the Amherst penalty was called, Williams capitalized on the man-up chance when Bravi notched her 17th goal of the season, with help from the tandem of Hanna Beattie (Whitehouse Station, NJ) and Gwendolyn Schultz (Wallington, CT). Schultz came up the ice, started cutting the seam and dropped the puck to Beattie, who hit Bravi backdoor.
While it took 18 minutes to get on the scoreboard, the Ephs controlled the puck for the majority of the period, testing Kerri Stuart (Tewksbury, MA) with 11 shots on cage. Eph netminder Charlie Billadeau (Chaska, MN) remained stalwart between the pipes and made four tough saves on the four Amherst shots that came her way.
Pleased with her team's strong start, head coach Meghan Gillis stated, "We did a good job of playing our game, getting the puck deep and gaining possession, in the first period especially."
While it was a scoreless middle frame, it did not go without chances from both sides. Williams got off seven shots, while Amherst found more of an offensive groove and tested Billadeau 10 times.
Amherst saw their best chance of tying the contest up when an Eph penalty late in the frame gave them a 5-on-4 advantage. Billadeau and the Eph penalty kill unit fended off the flurry of shots to keep their slight lead.
The Ephs killed a crucial penalty to open the final period, and it would remain scoreless for nearly 17 minutes. At the 9:11 mark, Amherst forward Tori Salmon (Batavia, NY) made a nifty move to beat a Williams defender and had a golden opportunity, but lifted the puck high above the crossbar.
The Lord Jeffs would capitalize on their next best chance however, coming with 3:37 to go, when Anne Gillard (Calgary, Alberta) slid the puck just past Billadeau. Aided by Caitlyn Ryan (Burlington, MA), Gillard's equalizer knotted the score up at 1.
The Ephs responded in a timely fashion, regaining their lead a little over a minute later. At 2:18 Beattie, set up by Michaela Levin (Lititz, PA), took a slap shot from the blue line and it went top corner to put the Ephs up 2-1.
Neither team could break the tie in the overtime period, as Billadeau stopped the four shots that came her way and Stuart fended off six Eph shots. Both goaltenders concluded the evening with 28 saves.
Next up for Williams is a crucial series against top ranked NESCAC team Middlebury. The first game of the series will be played at Middlebury Friday at 7pm. The teams will then travel to Williamstown to complete the series on Saturday.
Gillis commented, "Middlebury has been playing very well and they are the top team right now, so we're going to be making sure that we get our feet moving, get pucks deep and compete hard on every shift."