WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — The Williams College women's hockey team heads back to Brunwick, Maine Saturday hoping to put together a full 60 minutes against Bowdoin in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC Tournament.
Game time is 1 p.m.
The Ephs traveled to Brunswick and Bowdoin's Sidney J. Watson ice arena for two games back on Jan. 28 and 29, both times allowing three goals in the third period and losing 4-2 and 3-0. Now Williams (10-13-1) which earned the sixth-seed with back-to-back wins over Connecticut College last weekend, is looking for a more complete performance Saturday against the third-seeded Polar Bears (11-9-4).
The Polar Bears, are 3-0 all-time against the Ephs in the NESCAC championship, including a 2-1 win in the 2002 title game.
The two squads took very different paths following thae earlier weekend in Brunswick. Bowdoin netted three more victories as part of a five-game winning streak before going winless in its final three outings. Williams came up on the short end of the score sheet in its next four games but righted the ship at the right time with the aforementioned weekend sweep of Connecticut College.
An interesting twist to this matchup is the relationship between the two teams' bench bosses, as Polar Bear second year head coach Marissa O'Neil, a 2005 graduate of Bowdoin, will be going up against her former teammate, Meghan Gillis '07, the Ephs' first year head coach.
Both are former All-NESCAC honorees, both worked together as assistant coaches at Amherst, and O'Neil ran the Williams program for one year before taking over at Bowdoin in 2010. O'Neil hopes her squad will return to the semifinals for the third year in a row, while Gillis looks to guide her team past the first round for the first time since 2006.
The Polar Bears are powered by a pair of juniors, Kayte Holtz and Kim Tess-Wanat. Holtz's 29 points lead the club, as do her 16 assists. Tess-Wanat's 14 goals lead the P-Bears, and she is second on the team with 25 points. Holtz was involved in 5 of Bowdoin's 7 goals this year against Williams, scoring twice and adding an assists in the 4-2 win, then scoring once and adding a helper in the 3-0 win. Tess-Wanat was also a huge presence with 1 goal and 4 assists over the two games.
Bowdoin also has senior Dominique Lozzi, who has 4 goals and 13 assists this season for 17 points. Both goalies had strong games against Williams. Tara Connolly made 20 saves in the 4-2 victory, and Kayla Lessard followed the next day with 15 saves in a 3-0 shutout victory.
The Ephs' are led offensively by senior Kristen Tubbs, who had registered 12 goals and 10 assists this season for 22 points. They have a teriffic sophomore tandem in Cristina Bravi and Gabrielle Vukasian. Bravis had 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists), while Vukasian tops the team in goals scored with 13 and had 21 points. In addition, junior defenseman Sam Weinstein had 8 goals and 6 assists for 14 points.
In goal, first-year Chloe Billadeau has provided a big prescence in goal with a .901 save percentage and 2.53 goals against average over 19 games this season.
2012 NESCAC WOMEN'S ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Saturday, Feb. 25 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Colby at No. 1 Middlebury - 1:00 p.m.
No. 7 Connecticut College at No. 2 Amherst - 1:00 p.m.
No. 6 Williams at No. 3 Bowdoin - 1:00 p.m.
No. 5 Hamilton at No. 4 Trinity - 3:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, March 3 at Highest Remaining Seed
Highest remaining seed vs. Lowest remaining seed - 1:00 p.m.
Remaining first round winners - 4:00 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 4
Semifinal winners - 2:00 p.m.