The RPI women’s ice hockey team competed against the University of Montreal this past Saturday at the Houston Field House. Although things were relatively quiet in the first period, by the time the second one rolled around, things started to speed up.
Following the faceoff in the second period by senior Alexa Gruschow and Audrey Gariepy of Montreal, the puck moved into our offensive zone at full throttle, but was snatched halfway by Montreal forward Valerie St-Onge and defender Alexandra Paradis. The moment Montreal was about to break into RPI’s defensive zone by a long pass, freshman forward Alyssabeth Trembly made a perfect stick check. Despite thirst for a shot in her first college ice hockey match, Trembly took context into account first. Instead of a crude attack with the risk of opponents stealing the puck, Trembly passed it backwards to Gruschow. Surrounded by Montreal’s defensive line, Gruschow sped forward alone.
Junior forward Katie Rooney and Montreal defender Kim Poirier rapidly joined the chase. Facing a great check, Gruschow also chose to pass the puck backwards to get a better chance at scoring. Freshman defender Josefine Hanson swiftly approached the puck and made a one-timer which managed to pass by Montreal’s defensive pair, yet was checked by the Montreal goaltender.
St-Onge and senior defender Jenn Godin almost simultaneously started chasing after the puck. To the spectators’ relief, Godin applied the strategy of separating St-Onge from the puck and successfully snatched it. By this time, all forwards and defenders were gathering in RPI’s offensive zone. The Engineers then started to plan effective and efficient attacks. First, three forwards and a defender formed a zigzag offense line, which extended into Montreal territory. Then, Godin passed the puck at the perfect time through Montreal’s defensive line to junior defender Laura Horwood. However, their first try was checked by Montreal defender Maude Laramee.
Hanson picked up the puck, and the Engineers’ reformed offensive line launched its second attack by using cherry-picking. Hanson passed the puck backwards to Rooney, who after getting rid of a Montreal defender, also passed it backwards. As the last forward in the offense line, Gruschow was looking for an easy scoring chance with no opponents defending her. She seized her chance for a perfect shot! The Engineers scored 42 seconds into the second period. It instantly ignited cries of joy in the entire venue.
The Engineers took to the offensive strategy in the second period, but Montreal’s flexible and versatile defensive strategy effectively stopped the high-spirited Engineers from making more progress. To some extent, they were exhausted both mentally and physically.
In the third period, the physical conditions of our players took a turn for the worse, obviously owing to the intensity of the game. Although the Engineers had possession of the puck for more than 50 percent of the game, Montreal caught the deficit of the Engineers and made four goals in this 20 minute period, two of which happened in one minute. RPI lost 1-4.
The screaming and shouting that filled the Houston Field House, as well as encouraging music played by the RPI Pep Band, was unfortunately not enough to push the team to victory.