On Feb. 25, Colby Women’s Ice Hockey hosted the Trinity Bantams in the first round of the highly anticipated 2023 NESCAC playoffs. Heading into this quarterfinal matchup, the Mules carried the three seed, boasting an impressive 16–6 record and having defeated the Bantams twice in regular season play. The home crowd for the Mules was out in full force on Saturday and played a crucial role in keeping energy levels high throughout the matchup.
The start of the game saw a lot of physical play and not many clear-cut chances for either side. The Bantams controlled the puck for a solid portion of the first period, outshooting the Mules 9–2. However, a resilient defensive effort combined with some top saves from Colby goalkeeper Mandy Busky `25 kept Trinity off the board and saw the opening period ending scoreless.
Coming into the second period, the Mules seemed revitalized, playing with much more energy and intensity than in the opening period. An early penalty on one of the Bantam players for slashing resulted in a Colby powerplay, placing even more pressure on the Trinity goal. Despite the shift in momentum and numerous opportunities for the Mules, Trinity’s defense held the Mules scoreless.
The deadlock was finally broken in the third period, as Trinity knocked one past Busky in goal, scoring off the powerplay with just under twelve minutes to go in regulation. Instead of conceding, the Mules came storming right back. Just four minutes after Trinity found the back of the net, Colby responded with a clutch goal by Beth Sinson `26, who managed to pick up the rebound before smashing the puck past the Trinity goalkeeper, leveling the game at one apiece and causing an eruption of cheers from the Colby crowd.
After the equalizer, both sides had many chances. The rest of the game was tense, and nerves were at an all-time high, with either team looking like they could walk away victorious. Somehow, the third period saw neither side score again, and both teams were given a well-deserved rest after an exhilarating third period.
After the break, both teams returned to the ice and resumed play with traditional overtime rules: twenty-minute periods until one side scores. The Mules, fueled by their electric crowd and third-period equalizer, came out firing. Rugged defense and outstanding goalkeeping from Trinity were just enough to keep the Mules off the board. With ten minutes left in the first period of overtime, Colby looked as though they were going to finally make the breakthrough as Courtney Schumacher `26 smashed a shot on goal, beating the Bantam goalie but striking the post in the process.
For the third time that day, another twenty-minute period passed with neither team managing to score, resulting in a second period of overtime. Both teams saw numerous shots narrowly miss the frame of the goal; however, at 10:54, Meg Rittenhouse `24 scored the game-winner for the Mules off the powerplay. She was met by a resounding cheer from the arena as Colby stamped their spot in the semifinals of the NESCAC tournament.
This Saturday, Mar.4, Colby will travel to Amherst College for the remainder of the tournament, where they will face off against the second-seeded Hamilton Continentals. Both teams will look to secure their place in the NESCAC championship.
~ Mason Groves ’23
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