PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND – The Brown women's ice hockey team (6-17-1, 5-14-0 ECAC) grabbed a crucial league victory this afternoon at Meehan Auditorium, defeating the Rensselaer Engineers (10-18-4, 8-10-2 ECAC) and completing the weekend sweep after earning a 2-1 win over Union last night.
This is the first time in over four years that the Bears have earned a weekend sweep, as the last time that the squad earned four points in one weekend was when they beat Quinnipiac, 3-0, and Princeton, 2-1 on January 30 and 31, 2009.
"It was an incredible day," said head coach Amy Bourbeau. "In both games this weekend we jumped out and got a lead, 2-0 yesterday and 3-0 today, and it got us going. It motivated us to continue to get shots and continue to score goals. Alena was great today, she contributed on four of our five goals, it was incredible. Aubree also did an unbelievable job back there in net. As the game kept going, and RPI continued to keep coming harder, we kept our composure, and in the third period I felt like we got the control back to finish it off. I'm really proud of the group, it was a big, four-point weekend for us."
The teams battled back and forth initially, with neither generating much of an offense until Rensselaer took its first penalty of the game with 14:37 left to play and Brown created several prime opportunities that went just wide of the net. The Engineers survived the two-minute disadvantage, but the Bears carried their momentum into full –strength play, scoring their first goal of the afternoon at 8:57 of the first.
Junior Samantha Woodward (Lexington, MA) put Brown on the board when the puck popped out to the blue line where she was stationed. She took a one-time slap shot that deflected off of a Rensselaer skater and into the low corner of the net on the blocker side. Senior co-captain Alena Polenska (Kutna Hora, Czech Republic) assisted on the goal, Woodward's first of the season.
The Engineers stepped up their intensity in response, out shooting the Bears, 12-6, in the period, but junior goaltender Aubree Moore (Bowie, MD) was strong between the pipes, preserving Brown's lead through a Rensselaer power play.
After killing off a Rensselaer power play at the beginning of the second stanza, Brown increased its advantage, earning a 3-0 lead on a goal from sophomore Lauren Vella (Staten Island, NY). A scuffle in front of the net sent the puck up to Vella who was crashing the slot, and she took a high wrist shot that popped over the traffic and landed directly in the back of the net. Junior Jessica Hoyle (Toronto, Ontario) was credited with the assist.
Rensselaer rallied however, scoring its first goal of the night less than two minutes later. With Brown struggling to clear the puck out of its zone, Moore batted away a shot by Nona Letuligasen, but Toni Sanders, who was coming hard to the net, picked up the rebound and took a quick wrist shot for her fifth goal of the season.
With just under ten minutes to play in the period, a penalty on sophomore Kaitlyn Keon (Toronto, Ontario) gave the Engineers a player advantage, and it didn't take long for them to capitalize, as Sanders scored her second of the afternoon to bring the visitors within one. With Brown unable to clear during Rensselaer's power play, the puck popped out to Sanders in the middle, and her one-time slap shot hit the post and bounced past Moore. Alexa Gruschow and Madison Marzario assisted on the goal.
The Engineers out shot the Bears, 16-8, in the second, but Moore's 14 saves preserved Brown's 3-2 lead as the squads headed into the final 20 minutes of action.
After killing off a penalty to start the final stanza, Brown earned three different power plays over the course of 20 minutes, using the advantage to overcome continued offensive pressure from Rensselaer. With just 3:39 left in the game, junior Jennifer Nedow (Brockville, Ontario) scored her second power play goal in as many games to give the Bears a two point cushion as the clock wound down.
Play began with Brown dominating the zone, playing with patience and intensity through the man advantage. Vella, possessing the puck on the point, passed it down to Polenska. She sent it over to Nedow who was waiting in front to one-time a shot off of the post and into the net.
As the clock wound down, a penalty on senior co-captain Laurie Jolin (Lachine, Montreal) and the decision to play without a goalie gave the Engineers a two-player advantage with 1:13 left, but it was the Bears who would capitalize in the last minute, as Hoyle scored an empty-net goal to secure the 5-2 win for Brown.
Moore was incredible in net for the Bears, making 30 saves, while Polenska proved her mettle as Brown's leading scorer, notching a career-high four points. The Engineers had the advantage in shots, 32-25, while each team earned a power play goal, with Brown going 1-for-4 and Rensselaer 1-for-5.
The Bears will begin the final week of the regular season with a Tuesday evening contest, as they head to Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 19 to take on the Harvard Crimson in a game that was originally schedule for Saturday, February 9. The puck will drop at 7:00pm at the Bright Hockey Center.
Rensselaer: 12 – 16 – 4 - 32
First Period: B, Woodward (Polenska), 8:57. B, Polenska (Rucker, Welten), 18:15. Penalties: R, 1-2. B, 2-4.
Second Period: B, Vella (Hoyle), 4:02. R, Sanders (Letuligasen), 5:55. R, Sanders (Gruschow, Marzario), PP, 11:09. Penalties: B, 2-4.
Third Period: B, Nedow (Polenska, Vella), PP, 17:21. B, Hoyle (Polenska), 19:16. Penalties: R, 3-6. B, 1-2.
Goalies: B, (Moore), 60:00, 12 – 14 – 4 – 30 . R, (O'Brien), 59:13, 4 – 7 – 9 – 20.