Women's Ice Hockey Playoff Hopes Come Down to Final Weekend After Split with Colby
Wesleyan (group photo celebration) rallied from a 2-1 second-period deficit for a 3-2 victory over Colby Fri., Feb. 10. Wesleyan goaltender Ashleigh Corvi '13 recorded 32 saves, including 11 in a frantic third period that saw Colby with a substantial territorial advantage, in the Cardinal victory. Wesleyan (4-17, 3-10 NESCAC), which won its second straight, had a chance to clinch its first NESCAC playoff berth since 2004 with a win in the rematch Sat., Feb. 11 as the squads complete the two-game series. Colby, however, rallied for a 4-3 win in the second game to tightened the NESCAC playoff hunt.
Jordan Schildhaus ' 15 (#19, main photo) netted the game-winner for Wesleyan 4:13 into the third period. Colby's netminder stopped a shot from the point but could not control the rebound, and players from both teams converged on the crease. Schildhaus knocked it in for her team-high eighth goal and second game-winner of the season from the edge of the left circle.
After a scoreless first period, both teams lit the lamp in the opening minute of the second. Wesleyan jumped on the board just 28 seconds in with a tally from Kelsey Muller '13. An initial shot was stopped from the right side, but Jill Reynolds '12 sent the rebound to Muller in the slot, and Muller shot the puck into an open net with the Colby goalie down. The goal was Muller's seventh of the year, as she ranks second on the team in that category. Reynolds picked up her team-high sixth assist on the tally.
Colby answered just 29 seconds later with a redirection of a point shot with 57 seconds gone to even the score. Colby then went up 2-1 with 3:33 gone in the second as the Mules put home a rebound. Wesleyan responded at the 18:36 mark, as a shot from the right circle by Becca Koppel '13 clanked off the left post and deflected off of the netminder and in. The goal was Koppel's second of the season.
The visitors held a 34-19 edge in shots.
Colby extended its lead in the all-time series to 21-6-1 with its 4-3 win Saturday, but Wesleyan has won three of the past six meetings, as the Cardinals swept the season series in 2009-10. Colby did the same in 2010-11, defeating the Cardinals by scores of 2-1 and 5-1. While each of the last six years, the season series was a sweep for one of the teams, the teams came away with a split for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
Wesleyan held leads of 1-0, thanks to Jankowski's third goal of the year at 6:30 of the second period, and 3-2 5:54 into the third period. The teams began a streak of scoring a pair of goals in short order but Colby got the last tandem for the win. The Mules struck at 16:23 and 18:30 of the second period to take a 2-1 lead into the final stanza. Wesleyan got the equalizer at 3:10 when Reynolds put home her fourth of the season and Muller gave the Cards the lead as she tied Schildhaus for team leadership with her eighth just 2:44 later. It came just 18 seconds into a power-play chance, the team's second power-play goal of the game as Jankowski also connected while Wesleyan had the edge in skaters, doing so a mere nine seconds after the Colby penalty. But the Mules found the net twice in a span of just 20 seconds (10:50 and 11:10) and than ended the day's scoring. Corvi finished with 32 saves as Colby again had a shot advantage, 36-25.
Wesleyan remains in eighth place in the conference standings, one point ahead of Colby. Wesleyan finishes with a pair of games against Trinity, hosting the Bantams Fri., Feb. 17 and completing the regular season in Hartford Sat., Feb. 18. Wesleyan needs to match or better Colby's performance against Hamilton as the Mules host the Continentals for two games to close out their regular season.