666 days later, the women’s hockey team is back in the win column.
For the first time since December 12, 2014, the Dutchwomen won a game, ending their 55-game winless streak, which stands as the longest in NCAA Division I hockey history.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Emily Erickson ’17 said. “It was an unbelievable effort from everyone on our team. A win never felt so good.”
“It feels so good,” Haley Shugart ’20 said. “It’s like a weight off of our backs.”
Although it had shown signs of improvement in its first weekend series against the University of Connecticut on September 30 and October 1, Union proceeded to drop each of its next two matches against the University of Vermont and Pennsylvania State University, falling to 0-4-0 on the season.
An encouraging sign, however, was that the team had yet to be shutout. Goal-scoring troubles plagued the Dutchwomen throughout their winless streak, but Union scored at least one goal in each of its first four contests this year. Despite this, the losses to UVM and Penn State came by a rather lopsided combined score of 13-2.
None of that mattered on Saturday, October 8 when the Dutchwomen took the ice against Penn State for the final match of a 2-game weekend series. Erickson opened the game’s scoring when she deflected a point shot from Caitlyn McClaren ’18 that beat the Nittany Lion netminder and gave Union a 1-0 lead. Rachel de Perio ’20 tallied her first of three assists on the Erickson goal.
Penn State answered just over seven minutes later when Kelly Seward beat the Dutchwomen goalie Kate Spooner ’20 to tie the score at 1-1.
The score remained 1-1 until Shugart banged home a rebound from Abby Ellis ’20 to break the tie just 1:28 into the second period.
Shugart did not stop there, however, as she doubled the Dutchwomen lead on a 2-on-1 breakaway with about seven minutes remaining in the period. De Perio setup the Shugart score with a beautiful feed in front of the net.
Penn State’s Laura Bowman cut the lead back to one before the period ended, making it a 3-2 game heading into the intermission.
Then it was Erickson who finished off Penn State by scoring from the slot late in the third period, putting Union back up by a pair. Erickson’s two goals marked not only the first two of her season, but the first two of her entire career.
“One is good, two makes it even better,” Erickson said. I hope I can put a couple more in the rest of the year,” the senior added.
The Dutchwomen held on from there and earned the 4-2 victory. The four goals are a new season-high for Union. The final three goals for the Dutchwomen all came on the powerplay. Spooner stopped 24 of the 26 shots she faced in net. Penn State outshot Union 26-25.
“I’m just so happy for our group,” said head coach Josh Sciba, who picked up his first win behind the bench for Union. “For the returners who haven’t felt this since December of 2014, it’s a team victory tonight. Everyone in that locker room contributed. I couldn’t be any happier.”
“It was a good feeling,” Erickson said. “I almost forgot what it felt like. It’s good to be there again.”