NESCAC Semifinal: #3 Williams College 2, Connecticut College 0

NESCAC Semifinal: #3 Williams College 2, Connecticut College 0

Williamstown, Mass. -(Jake Abrahams, Williams) For the first time since 2006, the Williams women's hockey team played in a NESCAC semifinal contest.  By virtue of the
top two seeds losing in the quarterfinal round, the 3rd seeded Ephs
hosted 4th seeded Bowdoin, 7th seeded Colby, and Williams' opponent,
the 8th seeded Connecticut College Camels, at Lansing Chapman Rink.

These two teams met on the final weekend of regular season play, with
each team capturing a win apiece.  Williams earned a spot in the
semifinal through a come-from-behind 3-2 win against Trinity, while
Connecticut College knocked off top-seeded Middlebury in overtime,
2-1.

It did not take long for Williams' top line to strike first.  NESCAC
Player of the Year Cristina Bravi took a backhanded chance from behind
the net.  Camels junior netminder Kelsie Fralick made the initial
stop, but the rebound was lying in the crease behind a sprawling
Fralick.  Both first year Emily Krueger and sophomore Michaela Levine
took whacks at the loose puck, and Levine finally punched it home at
the 6:16 mark.  Assists were credited to Bravi and Krueger.

After a bevy of chances to open the game, the Camels got a quality
look with just over four minutes remaining in the period, but Williams
junior goaltender Charlie Billadeau made a diving stop to keep the
Ephs up one.

The Camels continued with solid forechecking, and with 1:06 remaining
in the period, Eph first-year Chelsea Stevenson was whistled for a
checking minor. The visitors could not get a good setup though, and
the period ended with Williams holding a narrow 1-0 lead.  Shots after
one were 8-7 in favor of Connecticut College.

The Ephs killed off the remainder of Stevenson's minor to begin the
second, and at 2:22 of the middle frame Camel junior Amelia Dineen was
called for a two minute penalty of her own to send Williams on its
first man advantage.  Only Krueger could manage a shot on the
powerplay, and just as the two teams returned to even strength,
Williams went a player down when junior Gwen Schultz took a penalty at
4:25.

The pace quickened during this two minute stretch.  Off the faceoff,
the Camels got a quick shot on net and Billadeau could not control the
rebound.  A Camel was in perfect position on the doorstep, but she
fired a wristshot off the post.  Levine went the other way for
Williams and found open ice on a breakaway, but Fralick denied her
forehand backhand deke with the right pad.  Connecticut College then
caught Williams on a change going back toward Eph territory. Camel
first year Stephanie Izzi streaked down the left wing and fired a shot
earmarked for the top corner, but Billadeau got a shoulder on it to
preserve the one goal lead.

The Camels continued their pressure through the middle of the period
and forced the Ephs into another precarious situation.  Eph senior
captain Gabby Vukasin was a step behind on defense and took a tripping
minor at 11:33 to send the visitors on their third man advantage of
the game.

Williams killed off its third consecutive penalty successfully, and
the middle frame ended 1-0 once more.  Connecticut College maintained
its edge in shots, leading 23-20 after two.

Williams opened the third period with numerous opportunities, and
finally doubled its lead at 6:42.  Fralick denied two shots from
Schultz, and the Eph second line got the puck to Hadley DesMeules at
the point.  She fired a soft wrist shot from the point that got
through traffic. Fralick couldn't control the rebound, and Stevenson
buried the loose puck at 6:42.  The assists were given assisted to
Vukasin and DesMeules.

At 9:54, Camel freshman Ashley Anctil took an offensive zone tripping
penalty.  The Camels won the defensive-zone draw and got a quick
shorthanded chance from leading scorer Courtney Dumont. She executed a
good deke on the odd-man rush, but Billadeau was patient and made a
glove save to deny the shorthanded bid.  The Ephs put a couple quality
chances towards Fralick, but Bravi was whistled at 11:33 for hooking
to create a four on four skating situation.

Following a stifling penalty kill, the Ephs played tactical hockey to
use the clock against their opponent.  With 4:14 remaining, the Camels
used their timeout hoping to jumpstart a comeback. Williams' Hanna
Beattie - conference Rookie of the Year - took a penalty immediately
after the ensuing faceoff.  The Camels then pulled Fralick to go two
players up for the powerplay.  Following a frenzy around Billadeau,
Connecticut College took a costly penalty at 16:40 to negate its
advantage.

After the penalties expired, the Camels had a final chance off a
turnover by Williams defender Caitlin Conlon.  Inside two minutes
left, Dumont stole the puck and was alone in the slot, but Billadeau
made her best save of the game - a jab of the blocker to deny Dumont's
quality attempt.  Williams played flawlessly the rest of the way, and
Billadeau recorded her second shutout of the season.

Connecticut College outshot the Ephs 32-28 for the game.