ELMIRA, N.Y. — Bowdoin’s 500-mile bus trip back home will be a little bit easier this year. After going 0-3 in Frozen Four games, the Polar Bears turned a 3-0 lead into a 4-2 victory over Wisconsin-River Falls in the consolation game.
Marissa O’Neil scored twice, Shelly Chessie added to her record single season assist mark with two, and Emily McKissock stretched her school’s career win mark with her 48th while making 12 saves.
“Feeling a lot better than last year,” Bowdoin coach Michele Amidon said as she walked into the postgame press conference.
“It feels a lot better than last year,” Chessie echoed her coach.
Bowdoin had the jump on River Falls, outshooting them in the first period, 11-2, yet the period ended without a goal. Bowdoin wasn’t worried.
“I thought we were dominating,” Amidon said. “We only allowed two shots, we stymied their offense, I thought our forechecking was strong. It gave us confidence going into the second period.”
O’Neil agreed, “I feel our team feeds off the level of play rather than the score.”
“I give a lot of credit to Bowdoin. They were the quicker team,” River Falls coach Joe Cranston said. “We came out with our tanks empty. The night before was very emotionally draining. We tried to overcome it, and I think we did in the next two periods.”
The second period saw the red light go on four times as Bowdoin jumped out to a 3-0 lead before River Falls got one back late in the period.
Early in the period, Chessie’s shot was saved by Yaeger who then was out of position down on the ice. Leah McClure pounced on the loose puck, and shot it to the opposite side for the goal. It was McClure’s first goal of the season.
O’Neil scored the first of her two goals after Gillian McDonald stole the puck from a River Falls defender. McDonald took it to the net, but her shot was saved. Yaeger was not able to cover the loose puck in front of her, and O’Neil knocked it in.
“Gill brought it to the net, tried to beat the goalie, and I just put in the rebound,” O’Neil explained.
Bowdoin could have made it 3-0 before they actually did when Chessie was fed perfectly right in front of the net. Her point blank shot was saved by Yaeger.
The Polar Bears did eventually make it 3-0 when O’Neil scored her second of the night. While on the power play, Kirsti Anderson fired the puck from the left point that O’Neil tipped on the way in. It was the first power play goal for Bowdoin in the tournament.
“The second goal was just a redirection of a shot,” O’Neil said.
River Falls got their first late in the second period when Lou Paulson stuffed in a rebound.
“Right off the face off, Stokes got it to O’Keefe, who took the shot,” Paulson explained. “I was just able to knock the rebound in.”
River Falls kept that momentum through the intermission when they cut the lead to one just 30 seconds into the third period. Freshman All-American Ali Slinden scored from close range.
“Our line carried it around the net, and it popped out in front to me,” Slinden said.
“We weren’t expecting that,” Amidon said of the quick goal. “We were hoping to get a few players some ice time, so that changed our game plan.”
Both sides continued to take it to each other, but no one got another shot on net until the next goal was scored, over ten minutes later.
That goal allowed Bowdoin to turn the tide back in their favor when Beth Muir picked up a loose puck in the left slot area and shot a knuckler that changed directions off of defensemen’s legs, fooling Yaeger as it went by her.
This was only the second time the Falcons have let up more than three goals this year, losing to Gustavus Adolphus earlier in the season, 5-2.
River Falls didn’t give up as they got two clean breakaways, but McKissock stopped them both. The first was by Slinden, who made excellent moves, but McKissock stayed with it the whole time, stuffing Slinden with her left leg.
Minutes later, Jenny Conzomius had a shorthanded breakaway. She wasn’t as fancy as Slinden’s breakaway, and McKissock had a slightly easier time stopping it.
River Falls pulled their goalie but weren’t able to generate any consistent pressure. Bowdoin nearly scored an empty netter in the waning seconds when they hit the post.
This time, River Falls takes the long trip home without a win, ending their season at 20-6-4.
Bowdoin finished off at 23-2-3, their best season, and with a much better feeling on the bus back to Maine.