December 5, 2013
Women’s Ice Hockey has a big season ahead. Last winter, the girls tied a team record for wins in a season. This year, Katie Zimmerman ’13 and Becca Hazlett ’13 have graduated. Zimmerman was a two-time all-conference selection and Hazlett holds the career record with a 2.64 goals against average. As Emily McNamara heads into her second year of coaching, she is faced with the challenge of training a skilled, yet relatively young team in the hopes of advancing to postseason for the 13th consecutive year.
Co-captain Gigi Fraser ’14 speaks for the team when she says her primary goals for this season are “to always work hard, put together a full 60 minutes and make it past the first round of playoffs—home ice advantage would be nice, too, which means finishing [the conference] in 4th place.”
The Continentals started off their season with a home game against longtime NESCAC rival, Amherst. The rink was packed; Sage echoed as over 100 fans clapped and cheered Hamilton on in its home opener.
The energy was high from the start, and both teams fought through a well-matched first period. With six minutes and 45 seconds left, Amherst scored a shot from the point, tipping the score 1-0. Hamilton struggled to tie up the game, and led in shots the first period. Nevertheless, the score remained 1-0 for the remainder of the first period.
After regrouping, Hamilton came out strong and dominated the second period. With 16 minutes and 42 seconds left in the second period, Fraser scored to tie the game 1-1. Ten minutes later, first-year Sara Taffe slotted her first collegiate goal to put the Continentals ahead 2-1. With two minutes left in the second period, Megan Fitzgerald ’16 nearly scored a third goal, but the referees called a violation for a player in the crease. Fraser explains the shift in momentum, noting that “There are always going to be changes in momentum from team to team in any game, but we definitely had a lot of momentum when we tied it up 1-1 and then went up 2-1 in the second period.”
The second period ended with Hamilton working to preserve its 2-1 lead.
Amherst picked up its energy in the third period, putting Hamilton’s defense to the test. The Continental’s Tori Bogen ’14 had a great game, backed by a strong defense; the Continentals only allowed three shots of Amherst’s first four power play opportunities. Nevertheless, Amherst was relentless, scoring with 14 minutes left with a shot from the top of the righthand slot. The puck slipped beneath Bogan’s pad. The period continued and became increasingly rough, as both teams vied for the lead. Amherst finally took the lead with a third goal, with a high wrist shot into the right corner. With nine minutes left, Amherst called a time out to regroup and rest its players. As both teams battled fatigue, Hamilton attempted to regain its lead, relentlessly testing Amherst’s defense. The Continentals won possession at the blue line and Fraser collected a pass in the slot. She immediately shot the puck to score her second point of the game, and to tie the game 3-3.
With eight minutes left in the period, both teams fought for a final point to secure an in-conference win. The teams were evenly matched, and the Continentals made full use of its younger players. Nevertheless Amherst scored off a power play with only two minutes and 42 seconds left. Hamilton called a time out a minute later to rest and strategize before a face off in their offensive zone. The Continentals were on power play, but failed to tie up the game. McNamara pulled the keeper in the last 20 seconds for an extra skater, but the game ended 4-3.
Fraser explains that the team worked to put what they worked on in practice into the game.
The Continentals worked hard but were challenged with putting what they worked on in practice into the context of a game. Fraser explained that “it’s the first game, without having our systems down it can sometimes be difficult to think and play hard.” Regardless, Fraser adds that overall “the team did an amazing job and worked hard, with the support of amazing fans.”
It certainly was not easy to lose the game in the last few minutes after such a long struggle, but the game was nevertheless a testament to the team’s enduring tenacity. The systems and technicalities of play can be tightened over the course of the season, and the girls have the right work ethic from the get-go.
“Seeing those freshman out there... I’m so proud of them,” said Emily Rubinstein ’16.
Fraser was disappointed by the loss but still expressed enthusiasm at the team’s effort as well as by the fans. “In my four years here, that was by far the biggest, loudest and best crowd we have had the chance to play in front of. The support of the men’s and women’s rugby team, women’s lacrosse, soccer and field hockey, and anyone else who was there made that game so fun to play in regardless of the outcome.”
The Continentals played Amherst the next day, losing 3-0.?“It was a tough loss, and we struggled putting together a full 60 minutes,” said Fraser. The loss highlighted one of the team’s goals, as Fraser puts it, to be more consistent in games and practices.
Although the loss was a disappointment after such a close game Friday night, Bogen came away with “an amazing game,” as Fraser said, crediting her with stopping a few breakaways. “Without her, the outcome could have been much different.”
This past week, women’s ice hockey played two NESCAC games in a doubleheader against Connecticut College. The Continentals tied the Camels 2-2 in their first game, and lost in the second. In the first game, Katie Parkman ’17 had a part in both goals, scoring the first and assisting Fraser on the second. In the second game, Hamilton outshot the Conn 30-18; however the Camels managed to save all but one, while maximizing on their 18 shots for a 4-1 win over the continentals. This Friday night, the Continentals play Utica at the Clinton Arena.