Ellis sparks Lakers to victory over Hamilton

Freshman Olivia Ellis potted her first two collegiate goals to pace the Oswego State women’s ice hockey team in its comeback victory on Tuesday over Hamilton College, 2-1.

Tuesday’s contest was the third game in five days for the Lakers, and head coach Diane Dillon noted how her team felt the effects of the schedule.

“You could tell in the first period that we were not very good, even awful,” Dillon said. “It showed when we didn’t have wind or weren’t moving our feet. We dressed an extra forward today for that purpose, we’re also very, very sick. I think having four lines and an extra player dressed helped us stay a little fresh.”

The Lakers trailed early after a power play goal from the Continentals with a minute remaining in the opening period, but Ellis scored a goal in each of the final frames to lead the comeback. Freshman goalie Mariah Madrigal picked up the victory in her first collegiate start between the pipes after relieving junior Tori Trovato against SUNY Cortland on Nov. 8. Madrigal finished with 20 saves. Dillon explained her reason for starting Madrigal today.

“Mariah has been working really hard, and she’s a kid that understands how hard you have to work at a position,” Dillon said. “Coming in behind a senior (Smith) and your Captain (Trovato) you have to wait for your time. She has worked hard and hasn’t slouched off. This was an opportunity to prove to herself and to her teammates that she’s for real.”

Dillon said she probably would have started either Smith or Trovato had it been a conference game, but she wanted to give Madrigal experience in the first half of the season, and saw today as an excellent opportunity.

Ellis scored her first goal of the year on a pass from Rachel Lenard, as the freshman line really made its mark in the second period. Ellis scored wide from the left and put it top shelf on freshman goalie Sam Walther.

“She threaded the needle on that one,” Dillon said. “She is very talented.”

This team has seen an increase in goals from difficult shots, and has grown its confidence to take tougher shots.

Ellis’ second goal was almost identical to the first. The first shot was saved by Walther and formed a crowd around the crease, and the puck was eventually kicked out to Ellis who buried her second tally.

“We have drills in practice if you do really well, you get the puck back,” Dillon said on giving Ellis the puck more and the theory of giving the puck to someone who has the hot hand. “If you earn it, you get it back.”

The first period goal was only the second goal surrendered by the Lakers in the first period so far this year. Hamilton College, on the man advantage, and Katie Parkman scored her team-leading second goal of the season, and was assisted by Hannah Bartlett and Teal Gosselin. Hamilton only got off four shots in the first period, but one of them was the goal.

The Lakers had a couple of opportunities, but Walther made her mark in the first period, saving all six shots. Brianna Rice, coming off an incredible weekend, eluded three defenders early and got a shot off, but right into the chest of Walther. Andrea Noss had another chance on a backhand rebound, but Walther covered it and ended the possession.

Madrigal improved as the game went on. During a Hamilton power play, she saved four shots within the first minute, and the Lakers ended up killing it.

The game ended with much suspense as Alli Ullrich was penalized with only 2:18 remaining in the game. The Lakers were down but had great play from Noss and Madrigal to close out the victory.

The freshmen led the way for the Lakers on Tuesday, from Lenard and Noss with assists, to breakout performances from Ellis and Madrigal. Despite the fact that three of them were on the same line, Dillon explained why.

“Normally I wouldn’t have three freshman together, but they’re gelling and there is chemistry,” Dillon said. “They have fun out there. When I see that kind of chemistry, I’m not going to mess with it. To see them have production and success, our freshman class is really stepping up.”

This team has also shown its confidence to win no matter who is in the goal, as all three goaltenders on the team have won starts this year. Coming into today’s game, Oswego State ranked second in Div. III allowing only .83 goals per game. Dillon speaks highly of her goalie’s efforts between the pipes.

“It’s everything,” Dillon said, “Because you can make mistakes and a goalie can bail you out. If we don’t have offensive production, which we’ve struggled with, we have those players that win a one goal game. You have to be able to have the confidence between the pipes, and we definitely have that.”

This was the first game all season that the Lakers won a game in which they trailed, and Dillon, who had been preaching about having to come from behind to win, was finally satisfied with the outcome and performance.

“I made that very point in the locker room, the three things you have to do to be successful,” Dillon said. “You have to be able to win on the road, you have to be able to win a 2-1 hockey game, and you have to be able to come from behind. We did two out of the three. We didn’t show that in the second Cortland game, we went into panic mode. The confidence I can feel in my team, when I have to make an adjustment on the fly, and when they can institute in effectively, it’s huge.”

The Lakers improve to 5-2 overall, and head to Neumann University when they return to the ice on Dec. 5.