Hamilton women's hockey gets home playoff win
CLINTON — Almost constant offensive pressure by the Hamilton College women's hockey team got the Continentals a 3-1 win in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament Thursday night against Nazareth.
The teams met for a second time this season and the result was similar to when Hamilton won 4-1 on Jan. 10 in the regular season.
Russell Sage Rink was packed and the crowd was loud for the rematch.
The teams traded goals in the first, with a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes.
The sixth-ranked Continentals opened the scoring on a goal by Sami Quackenbush just under seven minutes into the contest. She stole the puck away in the neutral zone and carried into the offensive zone before passing to Abby Smith. Quackenbush finished off the play after Smith's initial shot.
Twelfth-ranked Nazareth tied the game on a power-play goal with 4:32 left. Ivey Lyden sent a shot past Hamilton goalie Evie Sheridan when a rebound came to her out in front of the net. Assists went to Abbey Luth and Delaney Carle.
Hamilton controlled the puck throughout the second period, outshooting Nazareth 12 to two and scoring twice.
The Continentals took a 2-1 lead when Cuora Sullivan took a centering pass from behind the net from Nancy Loh and beat goalie McKinley Hoff. Loh and Claire McGennis earned assists.
With 4:35 left in the middle frame, Loh scored on the power play to make it 3-1. Her shot deflected off the skate of a Golden Flyer defender and into the net. Hyla Mosher and Abby Kuhns were credited with assists. "I just threw it on net," Loh said after the game of the play.
"We just kept going fast," said Hamilton head coach Emily McNamara, who is in her 11th season. "Everything is dictated by our wingers," and Loh was a key in that plan. Loh, a senior who attended Fayetteville-Manlius High School, said the team had a plan on offense: "We wanted to test the goalie early."
Hamilton maintained pressure into the third but did allow Nazareth a pair of chances to close the gap with two penalties. But the Continentals' penalty kill snuffed out both.
Nazareth head coach Chris Baudo said the team wanted to "get out of our zone a little bit quicker and make them defend a little bit more." It was difficult, he said, because of Hamilton's pressure. It also made it hard to sustain offensive pressure of their own.
"In the end you do the best you can. Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the other team," Baudo said. Hamilton's speed and relentlessness "makes it hard," he said. "They hound and hunt the whole time."
For Hamilton defenseman Maddie Hong, the plan was to create offense but be smart when in the Nazareth zone, especially later in the game when the Flyers were stepping up to counterattack and try to cut into the lead.
Sheridan made 14 saves to earn the win. Hoff had 24 saves in the loss.
"There was no pressure on us," said Loh. "We came into this just trying to soak up every moment." For Hong, it was great to be at home for the playoff game. "So much fun having fans here. They brought the energy a lot."
Hamilton (21-5-2) advances to the quarterfinals and will play fifth-ranked Adrian College (26-3) in Adrian, Michigan, at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
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