The women’s ice hockey 2021-22 season started off with a two-day doubleheader against Neumann University where the Colonels fell 5-4 in the first match and won 3-2 in the second.
“It felt great to open the season at home,” said head coach Earl Utter. “There was so much energy in the dressing room, we had our new uniforms, and it was an electric feeling. It really was a great weekend for our team.”
In the first match, the Colonels had multiple faceoffs with Neumann, but got the short end of the stick. The first goal of the game was scored by Neumann’s Katelyn Brown at the 4:21 mark of the first
period. Wilkes answered as sophomore defender Kiera Lacombe scored her first goal as a Colonel, which was assisted by first-year forward Emma Guzdek. This tied the game up 1-1 at the 5:23 mark.
Ten minutes later, Wilkes’ junior defender Abigail Barcless found junior forward Julie Patterson for another Colonels goal. Exactly one minute after Patterson’s goal, the Knights answered with a goal by Georgi Rowland.
The period ended with a Wilkes goal by Guzdek, assisted by first-year defender Sofia Niemela and Lacombe, making the score 3-2.
“I believe the team connected well and we all pushed each other,” said Patterson. “We got into a rhythm and battled the best we could.”
Two minutes into the second period, Neumann scored a goal off of a power play and again five minutes later at the 7:17 mark, making the score 4-3. The Colonels did not score in the second period, but the Colonels continued to chip away at Neumann’s defense.
“The energy on and off the ice was such a key part of the game today,” said Guzdek. “We were all pushing each other to do our best.”
The third period remained scoreless for the Colonels and the Knights until the 15:11 mark as Neumann’s Rowland scored off of a power play, putting the Knights up 5-3. At the 18:29 mark, Wilkes’ sophomore forward Rachel Morey scored an unassisted short-handed goal. Unfortunately, the Colonels came up short to the Knights with a final score of 5-4.
“I think the loss was only on the scoreboard,” said Lacombe. “We went into the locker room after that game knowing we put in the work and were ready to put in the work again.”
Wilkes was ready for a rematch as they were set to play the Knights again the following day.
“The first game jitters are out,” said Morey. “Now we can really start to develop to our potential.”
The start of the first period was strong for Wilkes as Morey took one to the cage herself and scored 11 seconds into the game. At the 12:01 mark, senior forward Kendall Castro found Patterson on the power play for another Colonels goal. Following Patterson’s goal, Wilkes’ defense held the Knights to a scoreless period.
“We took the mistakes we made yesterday and combined it with energy to make some well connected plays,” said Patterson. “After an assist from Kendall, it gave me the opportunity to skate the puck up and slide the puck in between the goalies pads.”
Penalties led to faceoffs in the second period for both Wilkes and Neumann. The Knights’ Rowland scored off of a power play, bringing the score to 2-1. The 16:28 mark brought on another score for Neumann as Brown snuck in.
The period ended with the game all tied up and both teams were ready to fight for the win in the third.
At the 11:49 mark, Patterson and senior defender Valerie Koenig found junior defender Abby Miller for a goal on a Colonel power play, making the score read 3-2.
Wilkes went on to play tough defense for nine more minutes to secure the win over Neumann. The Colonels’ senior goaltender Allyson Joly ended with 41 saves, just 12 saves shy of her season high from last year.
“Today’s win really made us realize that this is the team we have,” said Joly. “It felt like everything really came together and we put a complete game on the ice.”
The Colonels will be on the road for a doubleheader against Nazareth College on Nov. 12 and 13.