Williams Ephs and Saint Anselm Hawks battle to 1-1 draw

Eph's Focused on the puck
Eph's Focused on the puck

Manchester, New Hampshire - On a rainy Tuesday night, the Williams Ephs made the long trek up to Saint Anselm College (14-2-3) to take on the Hawks in an out-of-conference matchup. Following a weekend filled with tough matchups against the Connecticut College Camels, the Ephs (9-4-5; 3-3-4 NESCAC) looked to get back into the win column.

Against a strong Saint Anselm team, Williams was able to strike first. At just over 7 minutes gone in the first period, Ephs freshman Gabbi Montembeault was able to slide one past the Hawk's sophomore goaltender Michaela Kane. Montembeault's goal came off of feeds from teammates junior Anna Fucillo and sophomore Mia Carroll. The goal gave the Ephs a 1-0 advantage that they were able to carry into the first intermission. The Hawks had only trailed one other time going into the second period on the season, so with the Ephs' lead, they hoped to be able build a larger lead coming out into the second period.

The second period began and the Williams defense looked poised to defend the defensive zone. Anchored by senior goaltender Christina Cleroux, Williams was able to hold Saint Anselm without any serious scoring chances for the first 10 minutes of the half. Meanwhile, the Ephs were able to generate many very good scoring chances, with several requiring a lot of Hawk netminder Kane to keep the score at 1-0.

At 12:05 in the second, the Ephs got a chance to go on the power play. Hawk senior Jackie Guy was called for an interference penalty deep in her own zone and that put Williams on the power play for two minutes. On this power play, the Ephs were able to generate several quality scoring chances as they were able to string together some beautiful passes. However, they were not able to beat Saint Anselm's Kane, who stood strong in the net for the duration of the power play. The rest of the period yielded back and forth hockey with some good chances for both teams, but neither were able to crack through the goaltenders, both of which looked very strong heading into the third period with the score still 1-0 in favor of the Ephs.

In the third period, the Hawks came out with a different amount of energy. Unlike the previous two periods, where the Hawks had a hard time getting into their offensive zone due to a strong Williams forecheck and a rock-solid defense, they had a little easier access in the beginning of the third. The Hawks were able to gain the zone and, as a result, they could generate some chances. However, Cleroux remained rocksteady in the net, making some very difficult saves look easy, denying the equalizer time after time to open the period.

At just over 5 minutes into the third period, Williams got another great chance with another penalty on the Hawks. This one was called on Hawk sophomore Mary Morrison for tripping Montembeault as she streaked into the zone. While Williams was able to maintain offensive zone time for the duration of the power play, they were unable to generate the all important second goal. When the power play ended, it was still 1-0.

After another minute and half of even strength hockey, Williams was whistled for their first penalty. Ephs senior Candace Lu was called for hooking, putting the Hawks on a power play. Saint Anselm has a notoriously lethal power play, so this was a big moment for the Ephs, as the Hawks have converted on over 25% of their power play opportunities. Unfortunately, the percentages spoke the truth. At just 18 seconds into the powerplay for the Hawks, they found their equalizer. Coming off a shot from the wing by Kaley Campbell, Cleroux made the save into the middle of the ice. Off the rebound, Paige Gorecki was able to put one past Cleroux, leveling the score at one apiece. While Williams had one more power play opportunity in the third, Williams was again unable to convert. The game had several more good scoring chances, but neither team was able to convert. At the end of regulation, with the score at 1-1, the game entered an overtime period.

In the overtime period, the hockey seemed to be conservative, as neither team was able to generate a shot on goal for the first 2 minutes. The Ephs were able to generate a great chance with 28 seconds left in the overtime period, as freshman Avery Dunn was able to slice through the zone on a 2-on-1 break for the Ephs. She dangled past the first defenderwith ease, but she wasn't able to beat Kane, who stood strong in the net.

After the game, Ephs head coach Meghan Gillis stated. "We are starting to get a better picture of what it looks like when we are playing at our highest level and what it takes to do that. Now we need to do that more consistently and play to our strengths."

In a very evenly matched game, the Ephs skated hard and played a hard fought game. However, despite surrendering the lead in the third period for the second game in a row, they had no reason to hang their heads, as a 1-1 result against this strong Saint Anselm team. 

The Ephs will take back to the ice this weekend when they travel to Amherst for a Little-Three matchup against their rivals from just down the road. The puck drops at 7PM on Friday at Orr Rink in Amherst, Massachusetts. The two longtime rvals will also meet on Saturday at 7PM, but that ocntest will be held at Ephs' Lansing Chapman Rink in Williamstown.

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