By Ben Gurlitz
Even though the Dutchwomen were beaten by Yale on Friday, they made up for the loss the following day as they ended their 12 -game losing skid and 26 game winless streak on Pink at the Rink Day. The 3-2 win over the Bears was Union’s first ECAC win of the season, and first league win at home since Feb. 28, 2004 when they topped Cornell 3-1.
The weekend started with the Bulldogs producing a convincing display of hockey, scoring three second period goals while out shooting the home side 32-16 en route to a 5-0 victory. Junior goaltender Kate Gallagher made 27 saves in the loss.
Saturday’s game would prove to be one of the Dutchwomen’s better displays of the season, facing fellow bottom dwellers Brown. This game took on greater significance because it was the fourth annual Pink at the Rink Day.
The game is meant to raise awareness of cancer. The players wore pink laces on their skates as a reminder that there are things in life more important than hockey. All the donations made at this year’s Pink at the Rink Day went to the “Score for Kristen & The Kids” foundation, which was created in support for Kristen Shinebarger, who is the eight-year-old daughter of Union’s Director of Student Support Services, Shelly Shinebarger. The game began with Kristen dropping the puck at center ice with her brother.
“[Cancer] is something that affects all of us. We put a lot of time and effort into this event and it’s special to have Kristen drop the puck,” Dutchwomen coach Claudia Asano said.
The first period was a cagey affair as neither team was really able to create many scoring opportunities.Brown was given a power play early in the second period and capitalized when a soft, arching shot by sophomore defender Victoria Smith fluttered into the top corner, five minutes into the period. The Bears almost doubled the lead on two occasions. First, freshman Katelyn Landry hit the cross bar, and then freshman Jennifer Nedow hit the inside of the post from the point.
However, Union pulled even with five minutes remaining in the second frame. Senior defenseman Elsa Perushek took a shot from the point that was deflected into the net by junior Lauren Hoffman, adding to her team leading 11 points. The goal was Union’s first in 14 periods.
Union came out hard for the third period looking to score and take the lead. “We looked a bit flat at the beginning of the second period, and [during the second intermission] I told them to get it together” said Asano.
Asano’s talk paid off as the Dutchwomen took a mere minute and a half to take the lead. Again it was a deflected shot from the point that undid the Brown defense, but this time it was senior defender Perry Maduri who had her shot tipped in by sophomore Jeannie Sabourin. The power-play goal gave the Dutchwomen a lead they would never surrender.
Johnston picked a great time to score her first career goal as Union doubled their lead with six minutes remaining in regulation when they received 54 seconds of 5-on-3 power-play time. Junior defender Dania Simmonds and Hoffman played catch at the point before Simmonds took a shot that was deflected over the shoulder of the Brown goaltender by freshman Ashley Johnston.
Brown did not go quietly though as they cut the deficit in half with an extra attacker goal with 27 seconds left in the game, but it was too little too late. Sophomore goaltender Alana Marcinko, who deputized for Gallagher in goal, made 16 saves, and the Union defense held off the Brown attack for the final seconds to secure the victory. “It was a gut instinct to put Alana in,” said Asano after the game. “They’re both playing well.”
The night belonged to Union, who won with a convincing performance. The last time the Dutchwomen won in ECAC play was last Jan. 16 at Brown. Although they did win last year in Rhode Island, they were outshot and had to rely on desperate defending. On this night, though, Brown could not have any complaints as they were beaten soundly by a superior Union team.
The Dutchwomen hit the road this weekend as they venture to Princeton and Quinnipiac before finishing up the regular season at home the following weekend against St. Lawrence and Clarkson.