The Rensselaer women’s ice hockey team beat ECAC hockey rival Union College 2-1 for their fifth conference win of the season and the inaugural Capital District Mayors Cup for women January 27 at the Times Union Center.
Prior to the sixth annual Mayor’s Cup on the men’s side, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan presented Troy Mayor Patrick Madden the Cup and he celebrated alongside head coach Bryan Vines and the rest of the Rensselaer squad (8-15-5, 5-9-2).
“It was a great game and a big step forward for women’s hockey in the Capital District,” said Vines. “The chance to showcase our institutions on a big stage in a big game with a trophy on the line was an experience our student athletes will remember for a long time. We are excited about making the Mayor’s Cup an annual tradition that will build on our rivalry and continue to grow women’s hockey in our area.”
The first dangerous action of the game came a little less than halfway through the first period when Union’s (7-17-4, 5-10-1) Cheyenne Harris took a shot from close range, but Lovisa Selander knocked the puck to the side. The rebound found the stick of Jordi Naidrich, who tried to slide the puck past Selander, who came up with another big save for the Engineers.
Rensselaer’s first solid chance came five minutes later with a shot from Madeleine Burnett that was saved by Coco Francis.
The Engineers were awarded a power play at the 14:15 mark after Rachel de Perio (East Amherst, NY) was called for boarding. Rensselaer’s Sabrina Repaci and Whitney Renn each had shots that were blocked and saved to keep the 0-0 stalemate alive.
The Dutchwomen only had five skaters for 1:42 until Ava Reynolds (Aurora, CO) was called for interference. RPI’s Josefine Hansen squared up a power play shot with less than three minutes left in the period from distance that was blocked by Katie Laughlin (Natick, MA). Laughlin took the puck in the neutral zone and tried to go straight to goal for a shorthanded opportunity, but Hansen stayed with the senior and broke up the play before Laughlin could reach Selander.
After regaining the puck, the Engineers kept the pressure up on their power play. After Burnett’s shot went wide, Shayna Tomlinson tried to slide the puck past Francis, but the senior hit the post. Rensselaer gathered the puck again. Amanda Kimmerle ripped a shot from the top left corner that Jaimie Grigsby tried to deflect in, but the effort was just wide.
Francis and the Dutchwomen defense then faced a flurry of shots in the final seconds of the power play front of the net from Kimmerle, Tomlinson, and Kendra Farole, but the 0-0 tie remained going into the first intermission.
After five minutes of back-and-forth action, Hansen came up with a big block on a tough Arianna Kosakowski shot. A minute later, Megan Hayes responded with a shot for the Engineers, but the junior’s shot was blocked by Kosakowski.
Rensselaer regained the puck with 12 minutes remaining in the second period that resulted in a pair of Marisa Raspa shots that fell short.
Two minutes later, Union’s Katelynn Russ drew the Dutchwomen’s third penalty for hooking. At the beginning of the Engineers power play, Renn took a shot from the left side of the goal that Francis tipped with her glove in the air. Grigsby was waiting on the back post, and tried to put the puck away out of the air, but the junior couldn’t get a shot in time. Shortly later, Repaci broke through the Dutchwomen defense and scored her first power play goal off a Grigsby assist.
Down 1-0, Union was awarded their first power play of the contest after Repaci was called for boarding. Selander and the Engineers defense held strong and stifled five shot attempts. Just before Repaci returned to the ice, Tomlinson took the puck in transition to try to score Rensselaer’s first shorthanded goal of the season, but Francis’ legs denied the senior her sixth goal.
Time was ticking down, and Rensselaer’s Blake Orosz launched the puck toward the Dutchwomen net. Freshman Aimee Raithby touched the puck just to her left to a crashing Orosz who found the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season.
Up 2-0, RPI’s Makenna Thomas ripped a hard shot toward Francis that went wide six minutes into the final period.
A little more than 10 minutes showed on the clock, and Union tried to cut down the Engineer lead, but Repaci and Burnett broke up multiple plays on defense to prevent any tough shots. Four minutes later, Repaci tried to add a second goal by shooting across the crease to the back post, but the sophomore just missed.
Union continued fighting in the final six minutes of regulation. Caitlyn McLaren whipped the puck toward Selander that Laughlin knocked in to cut the Rensselaer lead to 2-1.
Following the center ice faceoff, Union’s Hannah Schultz took a pair of dangerous shots that were blocked by Kimmerle and Renn.
With a mere 2:32 remaining in regulation, Union’s Haley Shugart’s shot was saved followed by a Shultz shot off the rebound that was saved again by Selander. The junior netminder then collapsed on the rebounding puck to prevent a third shot.
The Dutchwomen kept pushing on offense with a tough shot from Shugart that was saved by Selander again. McLaren and de Perio fought for rebounded pucks, but their shots were blocked by Hayes and Kimmerle.
Union pulled Francis from the net for the extra skater, but the Engineers held on for the 2-1 win.
Selander (8-14-4) was credited with the win on a 24-save effort, while Francis (6-11-2) picked up the loss with 23 saves. Both squads recorded 13 blocks with Kosakowski recording a game-high seven.
Rensselaer is back in action this weekend in a critical conference double-header at Houston Field House. Quinnipiac comes to town on Friday, February 2 (6 p.m.) with Princeton arriving on Saturday, February 3 (3 p.m.).