Score: Elmira College 7, Utica College 1
Records: Elmira (22-2-2), Utica (15-10-2)
Location: Murray Athletic Center -- Pine Valley, N.Y.
PINE VALLEY, N.Y. -- The No. 3/3 nationally-ranked women's ice hockey team punched its ticket to the inaugural United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) Championship Game with an impressive 7-1 victory over Utica College in Saturday's semifinal matchup at the Murray Athletic Center.
Elmira advances to the title game on Sunday, March 4, at 3:00 p.m. against Stevenson University, which knocked off William Smith College in overtime, 3-2, in the second semifinal game.
Six different Soaring Eagles scored a goal and nine logged at least one point for an EC offense that finished the game with a lopsided 43-to-13 advantage in shots on goal.
Leading all scorers was junior forward Katie Granato '19, who netted a game-high two goals as part of a three-point performance. Meghan Fonfara '19 (1g-2a) also notched a trio of points in the win, while Sarah Hughson '18 (1g-1a), Maddie Evangelous '19 (2a) and Shannon Strawinski '19 (2a) added two points apiece.
Jerolman potted the first goal of the game for Elmira a mere 1:38 into the opening period. Although Utica goalie Bria Reilly smothered her initial shot, the junior from Hamden, Connecticut, wrapped around the net and flicked in the loose puck inside the right post for the score. Hughson and classmate Louisa Lippiatt Durnell '18 then combined to double the EC advantage at the 9:12 mark. Hughson battled along the end boards to strip the puck from Utica's Taylor Osowski. The 2018 UCHC Player of the Year then found Durnell with a pass from behind the cage as the East Sussex, England, native crashed the net.
Osowski got the Pioneers on the board approximately three minutes later, but Hughson responded with 1:31 in the period to widen the gap back to two goals, 3-1.
In the second period, Granato came to life, as she had a hand in all three goals netted by the Soaring Eagles in the frame. Her first came on the power play before she assisted on a Meghan Fonfara '18 strike. The All-UCHC First-Team selection secured her second goal at the 7:35 mark of the second period with a great move to race around her defender. Granato then shoveled the puck over the shoulder pads of backup netminder Kayla Rios to make it 6-1 in favor of EC.
A total of 12 penalties were handed out in a chippy third period with the game well in hand for the Soaring Eagles. Following a bevy of infractions, the Purple and Gold reached the final score on a tally from defender Kiana Melvin '20, just the third goal of her sophomore campaign.
In Their Own Words…
Head Coach Tim Crowley on Elmira's semifinal triumph over Utica…
"I thought we played well. Excited about our start, especially after being off for two weeks. I thought special-team wise we were really strong, given that the third period was a little bit of a mess on the special team side of things. I thought tonight was a good 60 minutes from us. I thought our better players were our best players today, which is a huge part moving forward. We're excited about today. Obviously want to prepare, get ready for a big game today and try to finish out this championship."
Coach Crowley when asked about setting the tone with Maddy Jerolman's early goal…
"Our start was huge for us. I think for us the first five minutes of every period kind of demonstrates how we're going to be the rest of the period. For us, we want to try to play with pace. Getting an opportunity to score in the first three minutes in a playoff game, it's almost not a sigh of relief but you kind of get in the momentum a little bit."
Coach Crowley when asked about Sunday's opponent…
"We saw Stevenson really early in the year, and I think they're a completely different team today than they were when we saw them early in the year. They're on a really good run; I don't think they've lost in a month and a half."
Coach Crowley on hosting the UCHC Tournament on home ice at the Murray Athletic Center…
"I thought that the building was buzzing a little bit and that it was a really great crowd."
News and Notes
- Elmira improved to 22-2-2 on the season.
- For the second consecutive year, the Soaring Eagles won their conference semifinal and will play in the title game.
- EC is 9-1-2 at home heading into the UCHC Championship Game at the MAC against Stevenson.
- The win over the Pioneers extended Elmira's unbeaten streak to 13 consecutive games (11-0-2).
- Hughson has logged at least one point in six consecutive games and has scored a goal in five straight.
- Fonfara's three points are a season-high for the senior forward.
- Granato recorded multiple points for the 11th time this season.
- Hughson added to her team lead in points with 42 (23g-19a) on the year.
- Kelcey Crawford '18 earned her 50th career win in goal for the Soaring Eagles and ranks third all-time in program history in career victories.
- Heading into Sunday's championship, Crawford has made an even 1,300 saves in her four-year career.
Top-seeded Elmira will host the third-seeded Mustangs of Stevenson in the first-ever UCHC Championship on Sunday, March 4, at the Murray Athletic Center. The opening puck drop is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.