WILLIAMSTOWN, MA— Three goals in the third period and Gabrielle Vukasin's overtime gamewinner gave the Ephs a 3-game winning streak, as the hosts downed Colby in a comeback thriller.
Similar to the beginning of last night's contest, the first period ended scoreless after a hardfought battle by both teams. The Ephs dominated offensively, garnering 18 shots on net to Colby's 6, but Williams was unable to capitalize on any of their opportunities.
With a pair of both Eph and Mule penalties providing each team with solid man-up chances, the penalty-kill units were kept busy in the opening frame. Ally Ensor (Sugarland, TX) ripped several shots from the point on the Williams powerplay, but Colby netminder Brianne Wheeler (Brussels, ON) did a great job of turning away the Eph opportunities to keep the game knotted up heading into the middle frame.
Early in the second period, Williams found an offensive rhythm, seeing their best scoring opportunity of the afternoon. Five minutes into the frame, the Ephs found themselves in a 5-on-3 situation, set up by two Colby penalties. Despite the offensive tirade, Wheeler managed to fend off everything that came her way to keep the contest deadlocked at 0.
The Mules refused to let the momentum reside in Williams' favor. At the 9:51 mark, Colby used their man-up advantage to take the first lead of the afternoon. Forward Annie Papadellis (Hopkinton, MA) controlled the puck following the faceoff, and wristed a shot past Eph goalie Chloe Billadeau (Chaska, MN) to give Colby a 1-0 advantage. Teammate Jessica Howerton (Schaumburg, IL) set up the Papadellis tally.
Feeding off their first goal of the two-game series, Colby upped their lead to two with just under three minutes remaining in the frame, striking again on a powerplay. Lauren Guarente (Wellesley, MA) carried the puck outside the crease on the low left side and wristed a high shot the hit the net just under the crossbar. She was fed by forward Samantha Slotnick (Canterbury, CT).
Both teams saw few scoring opportunities in the remaining three minutes, leaving Colby up 2-0 headed into the second intermission. After the game Coach Meghan Gillis elaborated on what she emphasized in between periods. "We talked about not giving up and not getting frustrated by the fact that we were putting so many shots on net and not scoring. We just needed to get screens and rebounds and put the puck in the back of the net."
Three Williams goals in the third period put the game within reach for the hosts. The Ephs' offensive persistence paid off 4:58 into the third period, when Kristen Tubbs (Garden City, NY) notched her 11th goal of the season to close the Mules' lead to one. Just after a Williams powerplay, Haena Lee (Bethesda, MD) fired a shot on cage. Wheeler made the initial save, but Tubbs was there to send home the rebound to make it a 2-1 game.
Taking advantage of their second powerplay of the frame, the Ephs knotted up the game at 2-2 less than 3 minutes later. From behind the net, Tubbs sent a pass to Cristina Bravi (Montreal, QC) in the slot, who found the back of the net to tie things up with plenty of time remaining in the contest.
The Ephs' comeback would be temporarily halted with just 2:48 to play, when Colby's Howerton put the game just out of reach. The Colby forward skated up ice and wristed a shot on cage. Billadeau turned away the attempt, but the puck deflected back into Howerton's waiting stick, who was able to send home the puck to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.
A penalty on Guarente with 58 seconds left in the game, coupled with the Ephs' extra skater, gave Williams a 6-on-4 advantage for the final minute of regulation. In a scene reminiscient of last night's contest, Gillis called a timeout to settle the Ephs' nerves.
The two-man advantage paid off for the Ephs, as Tubbs capitalized for her 2nd goal of the night with 42 seconds left to play in regulation. Gabrielle Vukasin (Princeton, NJ) and Bravi worked the puck around behind the net, before Bravi sent a pass to a waiting Tubbs in the slot. Tubbs wristed the game-tying goal to send the game into extra time.
Overtime lasted under 2 minutes before the Ephs struck yet again, this time to clinch the game. A penalty on Colby's Slotnick with 4 seconds at the end of the third gave Williams a man advantage heading into extra time. On the third shift for the Ephs, the Williams powerplay unit worked the puck around the perimeter. Ensor, on the point, rocketed the puck to Vukasin on the far post, who managed to flip the puck home for the gamewinner.
"Watching the video last night, we saw the things we did well and the things we needed to work on today. The girls just did a really good job of executing," Gillis said of her team's persistence, "We came up against one of the best goalies in the NESCAC today, so we knew we just had to keep hanging on and not giving up, and keep getting pucks and people to the net."
Billadeau finished the afternoon with 20 saves, while Wheeler turned away 53 bids. Next up for Williams (9-7-0, 5-3-0 NESCAC) is NESCAC opponent Bowdoin. The Ephs will travel to Brunswick, ME January 27 for the double-header.