CLINTON, N.Y. – The Connecticut College women's ice hockey team fell to Hamilton by a 2-1 decision to conclude the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Russell Sage Rink. Despite the outcome, the Camels finished the regular season in second place and have earned the right to host a NESCAC Quarterfinal for the fourth straight year.
Connecticut College, which outshots the hosts in all three periods, had an opportunity to score shortly after the opening faceoff. Lily Connolly (Duxbury, Mass.) created her own shot from the slot and tried to beat goalie Sam Walther with a backhander, but the senior dove to deny the shot and left an open net. Kyla Floresca tried to poke in the rebound, but Walther recovered and made a stick save to keep the game scoreless.
Shortly afterwards, Maddie Beitler put the Continentals on the board at the 3:37 mark on a rebound attempt at the other end. Maddie Beitler slipped the puck past the goal line after an initial shot by Jenna Jewell was saved by junior netminder Bailey Mertz (Glenville, N.Y.).
The Camels had numerous chances to respond and outshot the Continentals by a 15-7 margin in the second frame. Walther, however, kept her composure and most notably used her blocker to deflect a scoring attempt by freshman Erin Dillon (Hazlet, N.J.) as well as a one-timed shot by classmate Mairi Anthony (Stoneham, Mass.).
With Walther still holding her ground, Hamilton (13-7-4, NESCAC 9-4-3) doubled its lead at the 11:18 mark of the second period on a power play. Michaela Giuttari skated from coast to coast with the puck and fired a shot on Mertz. After a save was made, Missy Segall took the rebound and found Andrea Rockey for a backhander to give the Continentals some breathing room they would eventually need.
Playing with their backs against the wall and time winding down, Connecticut College slashed the deficit in half at the 15:47 mark of the third period. Sophomore defender Ashley Carbone (Wallingford, Conn.) sent a pass to junior Elena Gualtieri, who found a charging Connolly for a one-timer which made it past Walther.
The Camels pulled Mertz out of the goal with 3:35 remaining and peppered Walther with nine shots in the final minutes. Walther, however, stopped four of them and got some help from her defense to allow the hosts to escape with the win.
Walther made 40 saves to pick up the victory between the pipes for Hamilton, while Mertz turned away 20 shots in the losing effort.
Connecticut College (14-5-5, NESCAC 9-3-4) will open postseason play when it hosts Colby for a NESCAC Quarterfinal matchup on Saturday, Feb. 24 at a time to be determined.