The women’s hockey team (6-9-1) shut out Nichols College (6-12-0) on Wednesday night in its last out-of-league tune-up before entering the final two weekends of NESCAC play.
With great enthusiasm, Wesleyan avenged last season’s 2-1 loss to Nichols, which was the first time Wes had lost in seven games to Nichols. Corinne Rivard ’16 and Captain Jordan Schildhaus ’15 spearheaded the Birds’ 4-0 win, their biggest margin of victory since they pounded Williams 5-0 in their opening weekend. Rivard stopped 17 shots, while Schildhaus added her team-leading 9th and 10th goals of the season in the shelling.
Schildhaus hopes that this effort will bring the team momentum as they enter a crucial four-game stretch of conference games to close out the regular season.
“Last night against Nichols we played a full 60-minute game, together as a team,” she said. “We executed simple plays that kept us out of our defensive zone and allowed us to get tons of scoring chances.”
Lilah Fones ’15 sunk her first goal of the year off a Cici Frattasio ’18 rebound, Frattasio’s third assist of her career. That would prove to be the game-winner, but Wesleyan was not finished. Schildhaus scored the next two, first at 4:50 of the middle period, taking an Ellery Sarosi ’17 pass up the right boards before dashing to the circle and spanking a riser past Bison keeper Lindsey O’Connell. It was Sarosi’s seventh assist of the year, good for second on the team. Mackey Hemphill ’15 also earned an assist on the play.
The captains came through to open up the third period scoring, as Cara Jankowski ’15 muscled a face-off to housemate Schildhaus, who slotted the puck home from between the circles.
Two minutes later, Alex Horton ’18 fielded a pass in the slot from Rachel Aronow ’17, who was deep in her own zone. The first-year finished the play in beautiful fashion. It was Horton’s second goal and Aronow’s second assist of the contest.
Caitlin Bray ’15 and Laura Wasnick ’15 anchored the D for Wesleyan, holding court in front of Rivard and limiting the Bison to 20 shots. The Cardinals, in fact, doubled up Nichols in the shots column, 42-20.
The Birds stand a great chance for success if they maintain the ability to rack up this many shots on net against their NESCAC foes.
“If we continue to create these scoring opportunities and support each other in the offensive zone we will be very successful these next three weekends,” Schildhaus added.
One weakness in the team’s play, which has been a consistent struggle throughout the year, was its power play. While the Cards held Nichols scoreless in four opportunities, the women were also zero for six on man-advantages of their own. Their season power play conversion is just .119, next too last in the league, ahead of only hapless Trinity.
Beginning this Friday, the Cardinals will play four games in eight days against Hamilton and the Bantams. These match-ups, against two teams also fighting for playoff spots, could offer the Birds a chance to jostle ahead of their competition and earn a seed as high as fifth.
Wesleyan (2-7-1) currently sits in seventh in the conference, with the top eight earning playoff spots. Trinity (4-5-1) sits one spot ahead of them in sixth, while Hamilton (1-7-2) sits in the basement.
Schildhaus, though, believes that the team is better than its record suggests. Evidence from convincing wins against teams like Williams and Conn College, both of whom are currently in line for home playoff games, suggests that she is right. When the Cardinals play to the best of their ability, no team in the league can outskate them.
“With the NESCAC playoffs fast-approaching these next six games are extremely important for us,” Schildhaus said. “I am confident that if we play full 60-minute games, we will come out on top.”