March 14 2016
For the third time in the past four years, Elmira College women's ice hockey will be making the trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament Final Four. The fifth-ranked Soaring Eagles utilized a pair of power-play goals to secure a 3-1 win over second-ranked Adrian College in tonight's NCAA First Round matchup.
The first period was filled with great up-and-down action, although the shot count would indicate a much slower contest. Elmira came out on top in the period in shots, 8-to-4, but the biggest shot of the opening frame came from the blade of ECAC West All-Rookie selection Maddie Evangelous '19 late in the period.
Following a shot on goal, a scrum developed just in front of the Adrian cage at the 14:09 mark. While Adrian's Jade Walsh dove to the ice to cover up the loose puck, defenseman Sydney Smith took liberties on Elmira's Sydney Fischer '17, which drew a contact after the whistle penalty.
On the ensuring power play, McKenna Farole '16 dumped a pass to Evangelous along the left side boards. Without hesitation, Evangelous wristed a shot through traffic and beat a screened Walsh glove side for the game's opening goal.
Elmira still had work to do in the period, as Farole was whistled for an interference penalty at the 16:03 mark. Adrian was limited to just one shot on goal thanks to some stellar play by EC's penalty killers, which kept the Soaring Eagle lead intact through the end of the opening frame.
The second stanza saw a much improved offensive approach from the Bulldogs, who outshot the Soaring Eagles 10-to-4. Third-year netminder Kyle Nelson '17 came up big for the Soaring Eagles on several occasions, especially in the opening three and a half minutes, which saw her turn away a handful of shots at point blank range. Nelson's play improved with each passing minute, as she was tested often by the Bulldogs and their exuberant student section located adjacent to left faceoff circle.
Although Elmira was limited to four shots on goal, the Soaring Eagles had a pair of good lucks to increase their lead. The first came with 1:15remaining in the period, when Meghan Fonfara '18 spun and launched a shot in the lower right slot. Fonfara's attempt was deflected by Adrian's Walsh, but the puck squeaked out the weak side to Jessica Prance '17, who back-handed the puck on target. Prance's attempt just outside the crease looked as though it went it, but Walsh sprawled out to deny the scoring opportunity.
Following the Walsh save, Adrian countered with a rush, which drew a tripping penalty on Phoebe Piku '16. Elmira won the ensuing faceoff and immediately went on the attack, as Maddy Jerolman '19 broke out in front of the pack. One-on-one with Adrian's Walsh, Jerolman looked to beat her high on the blocker side, but the attempt sailed just wide with 10 seconds left in the period. Jerolman's attempt closed out the action in the second period, as EC held onto its one-goal lead.
The final frame began with the Soaring Eagles on the penalty kill, but EC kept Adrian's lethal attack silent with a handful of blocked shots, as well as some solid play between the pipes by Nelson. Elmira eventually killed the Adrian power play, but Farole would be called for high sticking at the 2:11 mark, giving the Bulldogs an extra skater for another two minutes.
This time on the power play Adrian would finally connect, as Smith buried a slap shot through traffic to even things up a 1-1 at the 3:06 mark. Smith's goal sent the crowd of 675 into a frenzy, as momentum seemed to shift in their favor. However, that momentum shift evened out almost as quickly as it came.
Just two seconds after the Adrian goal, Michelle Jones was whistled for a hooking penalty, putting Elmira on the power play for just the second time. On the power play, a blocked shot from the point trickled out to Louisa Lippiatt Durnell '18 on the right side boards, allowing her to snap one on frame. The attempt was saved, but the rebound dropped to the blade of first-year talent Katie Granto '19 in the slot, who quickly wristed one past the Adrian netminder to put Elmira ahead 2-1 at the 4:19 mark.
Adrian desperately searched for an equalizing goal for the remaining portion of the third, but Nelson denied the Bulldogs shot after shot, as she made 15 of her game's 29 saves in the final period.
With under a minute to play and the game coming to a close, Adrian pulled its goalie, leaving an empty net for the Soaring Eagles. Captain Johanna Eidensten* delivered the final blow to the Bulldogs, as she found the back of the cage from center ice with 26 seconds remaining on the clock to seal tonight's 3-1 victory.