Williamstown, MA- The Williams College women's hockey team improved to 7-3-2 on the year (2-2-2 NESCAC) with a thrilling 4-3 victory in the final seconds of today's game against the Polar Bears of Bowdoin College. Bowdoin dropped to 6-2-1 (1-2-1 NESCAC), suffering their first two defeats of the year at the hands of the Ephs. Williams senior Annie Rush was the hero, scoring with 46 seconds remaining in a game in which her team was forced to claw out of a 2-0 hole. Rush completed the comeback to give Williams their second win in as many days.
The teams went up and down the ice for the first nine minutes, with fleeting moments of sustained pressure on both ends. Bowdoin was gifted the first power play opportunity of the game when Williams junior Olivia Stokes went into the box for roughing with 10:44 remaining in the period. Following yesterday's game, Williams head coach Meghan Gillis emphasized special teams play on a day when Williams outscored Bowdoin 3-0 on special teams. The Ephs continued their strong play on the penalty kill, burning the penalty off the clock thanks to play of sophomore netminder Marissa Anderson, who was called on several times to stop shots in close quarters.
The Polar Bears were able to hold Williams scoreless for the entire first period, a feat that they did not accomplish in any period last night. The benefit of owning the only power play meant they were also able to flip the script in shot count, putting 16 shots on Anderson in the first 20 minutes compared to the 9 shots Williams threw on Lattanzio. Bowdoin was outshot last night 35-22.
After successfully killing another penalty of their own in the second period, Williams finally had their first power play opportunity with 13:35 remaining. It seemed to defy all odds that Bowdoin kept the Ephs out of the net. Williams forced Lattanzio to make five saves during the skater advantage, the most impressive coming when Eph first year Brynn Puppe seemingly had most of the goal to work with, but Lattanzio recovered quickly enough to keep the puck out. After Lattanzio kept the game scoreless, Bowdoin senior Maryanne Iodice put home the first goal of the game which was also her first on the year, giving Bowdoin a 1-0 lead with 10:55 left in the second.
The Bears added to that lead five minutes later when senior defender Jill Rathke found some space at the right point, skated in, and blasted one over Anderson's shoulder.
The next few minutes played out amidst a chaotic string of penalties, with Williams eventually scoring on a 4-on-3 advantage. Puppe, whose strong right handed shot from the left side had been threatening Lattanzio for the last few minutes, finally found the back of the net off a feed from fellow first year Meghan Halloran. The score remained at 2-1 when the two teams hit the locker room for the second intermission.
Bowdoin began the third period on the power play but quickly took that advantage away from themselves by committing three penalties in the first three minutes. Williams had a 5-on-3 advantage on two separate occasions during this time frame, and Puppe had yet another attempt denied by Lattanzio. The penalties were killed, but the relentless pressure put forward by the Ephs was soon too much for Bowdoin when Halloran dished the puck to junior Abby Brustad, who made no mistake in scoring the goal. Brustad's goal knotted the score with 14:39 remaining in the game.
More penalties for both teams led to another 4-on-3 advantage for the Ephs. Puppe again set up on the left side of the ice, and Halloran again set her up for a rocket into the left corner with 11:43 remaining in the game.
Williams lead was short lived, though. After Williams senior captain Kearan Burke went to the box for tripping, Bowdoin senior Maureen Greason scored 19 seconds into the power play to tie the game again with exactly 10:00 on the clock.
Williams went on the power play with 4:46 remaining in the game, but this time the Bears were able to successfully kill it. The two teams frantically went back and forth following the conclusion of the penalty until eventually a sharp defensive play led to Williams senior Annie Rush skating up the ice on a 2 v. 1 breakaway. Rush kept the puck as well as her composure, scoring the game winning goal with only 46 seconds to spare.
Gillis highlighted her team's resiliency post game, noting how despite not converting on their final power play the Ephs did not relent and were rewarded with the game winner. She said, "We knew Bowdoin was going to come hard after losing yesterday, and Marissa [Anderson] stood on her head and kept us in the game, giving us a chance to win which ended up being the difference. We just had great goaltending." Gillis added, "It was really special to see the play of Brynn Puppe, who I thought along with Marissa put the team on their backs today. That kind of play from a first year is special to see."
Williams will travel to Colby next weekend for a pair of games against the Mules while Bowdoin will return home to face the Mammoths of Amherst College. The weekend will mark the halfway point in NESCAC play for the Ephs, who are currently in fourth place.