The women’s hockey team split its annual two-game series with the Colby Mules this past weekend, notching its fourth shutout win of the season when it beat Colby in the second game. The series split came on the heels of a historic weekend, when the Cardinals defeated Hamilton twice to clinch their first playoff spot in 10 years.
In the first meeting on Friday, Feb. 14, play opened with a tough, defensive tone as the teams traded shots at an even pace and each goalie recorded save after save. It was all defense on both sides for the first two periods, and when the buzzer sounded prior to the second intermission the score was 0-0.
That wasn’t for a lack of shooting, though, as both teams had their fair share of good looks all game. It was all about which defense would let one slip through first. As fate would have it, the Cardinals were the ones who did.
“Nothing really went wrong on Friday,” Jess Brennan ’17 wrote in an email to The Argus. “We came out with good energy and excitement especially after last weekend. We just didn’t get the bounces we needed.”
Rather, the bounces began to favor the Mules, and Colby eked out its first goal just two minutes into the third period. The Mules scored again later in the game, but they didn’t have to. The Cardinals, despite outshooting Colby 31-28, did not score at all.
“We simply were unable to find the back of the net,” Captain Sydney Morgan ’14 wrote in an email to The Argus. “Colby, then still playing [to] secure their playoff spot, came out knowing how much they needed a win.”
The Cardinals had a chance to redeem themselves in the rematch on Saturday, Feb. 15. Once again, things played out in a physical, defensive battle. The Cardinals were actually outshot heavily this time around by a margin of 36-19. But netminder Corinne Rivard ’16 kept Wesleyan in the game with excellent play, turning away shot after shot. Rivard didn’t allow a single goal all game, registering the Cardinals’ fourth shutout on the season.
“No question we couldn’t have done it without [Rivard]’s amazing play between the pipes,” Brennan wrote. “She’s a very hard worker on and off the ice and really deserved the shutout and the [win].”
Wesleyan’s deciding goal came in the opening minutes of the second period, when Abigail Rutt ’17 scored off an assist from fellow freshman Brennan. The assist was a milestone for Brennan: it was her 19th point of the season, which makes her the highest-scoring Cardinal in a single season since 2004.
“Though Jess [Brennan] is a freshman, she came into the program and made an impact from the start,” Morgan wrote. “She shows up ready to play every day. The freshman class in general has really stepped it up and have been paramount to our success.”
The Cardinal defense held out the rest of the way, and Wesleyan left the ice with a 1-0 victory to offset their loss from the day before. Overall, the weekend moved the Cardinals to a NESCAC record of 5-6-3. This is significant because it places them in a three-way tie for fourth place along with Bowdoin and Trinity. If they can go 2-0 or 1-0-1 in their final season series against Trinity this coming weekend, the Cardinals will enter the playoffs with the fourth seed. This would grant them a home playoff game, something the women’s hockey team has never had in its history.
“More than just securing a playoff game on home ice, clinching the fourth seed means a lot to our program,” Morgan wrote. “While securing a playoff berth for the first time in ten years is a huge deal, getting the fourth seed really makes a statement that Wesleyan is a competitive team that should be taken seriously.”
The Cardinals will look to take a step toward that fourth seed when they take the ice for the second-to-last time in the regular season against Trinity on Friday, Feb. 21.