2014 NESCAC Women's Hockey Tournament
Saturday, March 8, Sunday, March 9
ALL 3 GAMES WILL BE WEBCAST
CLICK THIS LINK TO WATCH
Williams 2, Conn. College 0
Bowdoin 4, Colby 2
Williams 4, Bowdoin 1
Ephs Hosting First NESCAC Championship
HADLEY, Mass. – It will be a homecoming of sorts for Colby head coach Mallory Young and Bowdoin head coach Marissa O'Neill this weekend when they bring their teams to Williams for the NESCAC women's ice hockey semifinals and finals.
Young served as an Eph assistant coach under Shannon Bryant in 2007-08, while O'Neill was the Eph head coach in 2009-10. O'Neill left Williams after posting a 12-11-2 record to take the head coaching job at her alma mater Bowdoin.
Eph head coach Meghan Gillis played at Bowdoin with Marissa O'Neill.
Third-seeded Williams will be in search of its first league championship when the Ephs host the 2014 NESCAC Women's Ice Hockey Championship. This marks the first time in the history of the tournament that Williams has hosted the championship.
Saturday's semifinal action begins when Williams hosts eighth-seeded Connecticut College at 1 p.m. followed by fourth-seeded Bowdoin and seventh-seeded Colby facing off at 4 p.m. Games will be played at Lansing Chapman Rink on the campus of Williams College, with the semifinal winners advancing to the championship game to be played at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 9. The 2014 NESCAC Champion will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"It is an honor to host the NESCAC Championship at Williams for the first time in program history this weekend," said Eph head coach Meghan Gillis. "I am proud of what this team has accomplished thus far and look forward to seeing us develop further. This past weekend, the team played hard and was able to come from behind to beat a tough Trinity squad in the third period on Saturday. Each day we are working on playing more consistent, at a quicker speed, and competing to get better. Our scoring offense has come from all three lines, as well as the defense."
Williams (13-9-3, 9-4-3 NESCAC) went 7-1-1 in January to earn the No. 3 seed and the right to host a quarterfinal game. Thirteen wins on the season is the most since the Ephs went 14-11-1 under Michelyne Pinard in 2005-06. Pinard is currently the Ephs' head coach of women's soccer.
Williams went on to become the lowest seed to ever host the NESCAC Women's Ice Hockey Championship when it defeated sixth-seeded Trinity, 3-2, on Saturday. Williams scored three third-period goals, including a pair netted in an 18-second span, to advance to the semifinal round for the first time since 2006 when it had made five straight appearances. The Ephs played in the conference's first championship game in 2002, but fell to Bowdoin, 2-1, and have not played for the NESCAC trophy since then.
"This team is fairly young, but led by strong co-captains Cristina Bravi and Gabby Vukasin. Connecticut College will be a formidable opponent this weekend as we saw just two weeks ago when we faced off," stated Gillis. "They are also a fairly young squad."
Williams boasts the top two scorers in the league in senior forward Cristina Bravi (Montreal, Quebec) and first-year defender Hanna Beattie (Whitehouse Station, N.J.). Bravi has paced the conference with 19 goals to go along with 17 assists, while Beattie leads all defenders in every offensive category, including points (30), goals (13) and assists (17). Junior Chloe Billadeau (Chaska, Minn.) has emerged as the top goaltender for the Ephs. She has logged a 2.83 goals against average and a .891 save percentage in 15 appearances this season.
"I've been proud of the tremendous season that Cristina Bravi has had, not just in terms of her point production, but also in the way that she has helped create a positive, accountable culture for our program," Gillis said.
"Hanna Beattie has obviously had an impressive first year campaign, leading not just defensemen and first years, but the entire conference in scoring as a defense," noted Gillis. "Furthermore, she competes very well defensively against opponents, so her impact at both ends of the ice has been significant."
The Ephs will face upset-minded Connecticut College (11-11-3, 4-9-3 NESCAC) in the first semifinal. The Camels became the first No. 8 seed in NESCAC women's ice hockey history to advance past the quarterfinal round when they knocked off top-seeded Middlebury, 2-1 in overtime. Junior Justina Germano (Westwood, Mass.) scored midway through the extra frame, while junior netminder Kelsie Fralick (West Chester, Pa.) registered 39 saves as Connecticut College pulled out the victory. Senior Courtney Dumont (Yarmouth, Maine) paces the Camels with nine goals and nine assists for 18 points. Senior Olivia Farrell (New York, N.Y.) and first-year Ashley Anctil (Manchester, N.H.) have chipped in eight goals apiece and eight and seven assists, respectively. Fralick has recorded a 2.21 goals against average and a .929 save percentage in 20 games. The Camels are making back-to-back semifinal appearances and their third overall, but have yet to reach the final.
The squads have never faced each other in NESCAC championship play, but squared off in the final series of the regular season in Williams. The Ephs took the first game, 5-2, but Connecticut College bounced back to win the rematch, 5-1.
The other semifinal pairing features fourth-seeded Bowdoin and seventh-seeded Colby. The defending NESCAC Champion Polar Bears sealed home ice advantage in the quarterfinal round when they defeated Amherst, 1-0, in the regular season finale. Against No. 5-seed Wesleyan in the quarterfinals, Bowdoin (12-10-3, 6-7-3 NESCAC) scored early in the first period before building a two-goal edge. The Cardinals scored in the final four minutes of regulation, but were unable to complete the comeback in a 2-1 loss. Bowdoin has had a balanced offensive attack this season as seven players have tallied 10 points. Junior Chelsea MacNeill (Moncton, N.B.) paces the team with nine goals, while sophomore Ariana Bourque (West Barnstable, Mass.) has registered a team-high 17 points on seven goals and ten assists. First-year Lan Crofton (Milton, Mass.) and sophomore Beth Findlay (Hingham, Mass.) have split goaltending duties, as Crofton has recorded a 2.35 goals against average and a .912 save percentage compared to Findlay, who has a 2.25 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. The Polar Bears, who claimed NESCAC titles in 2002, 2004 and 2013, are making their fifth straight semifinal appearance and 11th overall.
Seventh-seeded Colby (10-13-2, 5-10-1 NESCAC) pulled off an upset of its own when it handed No. 2-seed Amherst a 3-2 loss. Sophomore Megan Fortier (Falmouth, Maine) tallied two goals during a four-minute stretch in the second period before the Lord Jeffs stormed back to tie the game with eight minutes left in regulation. First-year Jess Barkley (Toney, Ala.) then scored with 1:18 remaining, as the Mules held on for the win. Senior goalie Brianne Wheeler (Brussels, Ontario) kept Colby in the game as she made 34 of her 43 stops in the first two periods. Wheeler anchors the defense, as she ranks among the league's top goaltenders with a conference-best .936 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average. Fortier has a team-high 12 goals and 17 points, while first-year Katie McLaughlin (Glenburn, Maine) has dished out a team-best nine assists. The Mules, who are making their first semifinal appearance since 2009 and sixth appearance overall, are searching for the program's first league title. Colby played in the 2008 Championship, but fell to Amherst by the score of 7-1.
Bowdoin owns a 2-1 mark against Colby during the NESCAC Championship. However, the teams have not faced each other since the 2009 quarterfinal when the Mules came out on top, 2-1. In the first series this year for both squads, Colby swept the Polar Bears, 3-2 in overtime and 4-3.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for students and may be purchased one hour prior to game time at the door.
2014 NESCAC Women's Ice Hockey Championship
Quarterfinals – Saturday, March 1 (at Higher Seeds)
No. 8 Connecticut College def. No. 1 Middlebury, 2-1 (OT)
No. 7 Colby def. No. 2 Amherst, 3-2
No. 3 Williams def. No. 6 Trinity, 3-2
No. 4 Bowdoin def. No. 5 Wesleyan, 2-1
Semifinals – Saturday, March 8 (at Williams)
No. 3 Williams defeated No. 8 Conn. College, 2-0
No. 4 Bowdoin defeated No. 7 Colby, 4-2
Championship – Sunday, March 9 (at Williams)
Bowdoin at Williams – 2 p.m.