NORTHFIELD, Vt. -- The No. 2/2-ranked Elmira College women's ice hockey team opened the eighth annual East-West Hockey Classic in Northfield, Vermont, by scoring five unanswered goals and defeating No. 4/4-ranked Adrian College by a 5-1 final score. Not only did the Soaring Eagles successfully avenge last year's loss against the Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament, but EC advances to take on its long-time rival, No. 3/3 Plattsburgh State, in the championship game of the East-West Hockey Classic on Monday at 4:00 p.m.
Neither Elmira nor Adrian produced much offense in the opening period. The Bulldogs were awarded the game's first power-play opportunity, but the Soaring Eagles were able to deny the nation's top-ranked power-play unit to keep the contest scoreless heading into the second period. Both offenses, however, began to show some life in the second stanza. While Purple and Gold outshot Adrian, 12-to-7, and had four power-play chances in the frame, it was the Bulldogs who struck first. EC goalie Kelcey Crawford '18 got a piece of Tory Harshman's initial shot attempt, but the loose puck was poked into the open net by Rose Krasofsky on the back side of the crease, giving Adrian an early 1-0 advantage.
Down by one, Elmira began buzzing around the Adrian goal, thanks in part to the quartet of penalties called on the Bulldogs. That included a brief 5-on-3 opportunity when Shelly Czarnowczan was assessed with an interference infraction just 1:41 after Olivia Fox was penalized for hooking. Although the Soaring Eagles could not capitalize on the two-skater advantage, Shannon Strawinski '19 found Devyn Gilman '21 for a one-timer with a pass from behind the net and the rookie evened the score seconds after the latter penalty had expired.
The Soaring Eagles carried the momentum into the third period and came out firing. A mere nine seconds after winning the opening faceoff, Katie Granato '19 nearly caught Adrian goalie Kate Turner off guard. Turner denied Granato of the quick shot attempt, but the third-year forward netted the eventual game-winner 33 seconds later off of a tremendous slap shot from the high slot. Granato carried the puck over the line and, although the Naperville, Illinois, native was outnumbered three-to-one, was able to snipe the top corner of the net over Turner's blocker.
Granato's first goal of the night was the first of four recorded by the Soaring Eagles in the third period. Maddy Jerolman'19 made it a 3-1 score in favor of Elmira at the 8:30 mark on a fortunate bounce. From behind the goal-line extended, Jerolman backhanded the puck towards the net and it ricocheted off of the Adrian netminder and into the net for the score.
The EC defense was put to the test late in the third period, clinging to its two-goal cushion. After Jess Adams '21 was sent to the penalty box, the Bulldogs pulled their goalie in favor of an extra attacker with 4:48 remaining in regulation. The Soaring Eagles withstood a ferocious 6-on-4 attack and a barrage of shots, several of which were blocked away by Elmira defenders. EC was able to clear the puck out of its own zone after the penalty was complete and Granato added an empty-netter for some insurance, giving her team a 4-1 lead with 2:29 to play. The Soaring Eagles would tally once more at the 18:46 mark, this coming off the stick of Strawinski on a two-on-two breakaway with Gilman, who received an assist after centering the puck to Strawinski from the left wing.
Gilman (1g-2a), Granato (2g) and Strawinski (1g-1a) each posted multi-point games for Elmira, with Jerolman (1g), Maddie Evangelous '19 (1a) and Kristin Chivers '19 (1a) also earning points. Crawford finished with 22 saves between the posts, enough to surpass former teammate Kyle Nelson '17 (1,040) for fourth-place all-time in program history with 1,053 career saves.
In Their Own Words…
Head Coach Tim Crowley shares his thoughts on his team's effort in tonight's win…
"I thought that we put forth our best 60-minute effort of the year in tonight's game. We also had a defensive-zone first mentality and it showed."
Coach Crowley on the Soaring Eagles holding the top-ranked power-play unit in the country without a goal…
"We got into shooting lanes and made some good adjustments when we had to pressure or back off. Kelcey Crawford was again sharp for us, especially on the penalty kill."
Coach Crowley on how the team must play to earn a victory over No. 3/3 Plattsburgh State tomorrow…
"We have to be system strong like we were today. We have to bring forth another 60-minute effort and we have to win battles."
News and Notes
- Elmira improved to 11-1-0 overall, while Adrian fell to 9-3-1.
- EC is 3-0-0 against nationally-ranked opponents this season.
- The Soaring Eagles ended a two-game skid against the Bulldogs and are now 2-3 all-time against Adrian.
- EC held the country's top-ranked power-play unit scoreless on three extra-skater opportunities.
- Turner, Adrian's freshman goalie, hadn't surrendered more than two goals in any of her previous 11 starts but allowed four against the Soaring Eagles.
- With two goals, Granato moved into first place on the team (13) and third in the country in goals per game (1.08).
- Gilman increased her points per game average to 1.45, a mark that leads all freshmen in Division III.
- With two points against Adrian, Strawinski has amassed a career-high 16 points (4g-12a) thus far into her junior season.
- Crawford moved into fourth-place all-time in EC history with 1,053 career saves, moving one spot ahead of former teammate Kyle Nelson '17 (1,040).
- Tonight's win was the 40th of Crawford's illustrious career.
The second-ranked Soaring Eagles have a rematch against the third-ranked Cardinals of Plattsburgh State scheduled for Monday, January 8, in the championship game of the East-West Hockey Classic. The former conference rivals will faceoff at 4:00 p.m. at Norwich University's Kreitzberg Arena. Elmira defeated then-No. 2 Plattsburgh, 4-2, back on November 26 to win the UNO Classic tournament title in Plattsburgh, New York, marking the first win for EC against the four-time defending national champions since the 2014-15 season.