Brunswick, Me. — Elmira paid its first-ever visit to Bowdoin’s historic Dayton Arena and came away with a hard fought 5-4 win. Bowdoin outshot Elmira 44-32 and twice came back from two-goal deficits in defeat.
The Soaring Eagles (17-7) got outstanding games from Jaclyn O’Neil (1 goal, 3 assists) and Stefanie McLean (2 goals, 2 assists). Lyndsay Laxton netted the game-winner 4:12 into the third period and Cara McGurry had a solid 40 save performance.
Elmira Coach Paul Nementz-Carlson said: “Cara has been getting better each gameshe’s very confident and that shows for the team in simple things like controlling rebounds, being aggressive on the shooter, she was great for us down the stretch.”
McGurry prevented another comeback from Bowdoin (15-7-1) by thwarting a two-on-one with less than seven minutes left in the game. Sam Stewart broke in close for a shot from the circle on her gloveside, with dangerous Meghan Gillis looking for a rebound that never came.
The first three minutes of the game saw Elmira jump out to a 2-0 lead on goals from McLean and O’Neil.
Bowdoin’s Scooter Walsh broke the ice for the Polar Bears when she stole a pass took her time, patiently moved in on McGurry, deked her down and flipped a shot into the net. The score was 2-1 less before the five-minute mark.
“We got up 2-0 early and we thought we had the game, they came right back at us in the second tying it up,” McGurry said.
The game was a see-saw affair. Bowdoin tied it up at 2-2 on the power play, and Elmira went ahead 4-2 just past the midway point. But Bowdoin tied it before the second intermission with a pair of goals 64 seconds apart.
“We got a little overaggressive,” Nemetez-Carlson said. “We got really excited, we scored two goals and spent a period and a half thinking every time we got the puck we could go on a rush and get a goal.”
Nemetz-Carlson gave Bowdoin coach Michele Amidon plenty of credit.
“The things Michele was doing against us worked very well,” he said. “She had two or three people join the attack, they were working together, it took us awhile to figure out exactly what they were doingthe number of different looks you get from her, with the fact they worked really hard, makes them competitive.”
The intense, end to end pace of the game during the second period seemed to be favoring the Polar Bears, as Elmira had only two defensive pairs available. Elmira adjusted between the second and third periods.
“We changed our mental focusmade sure we had our third forechecker highmade sure we had a forward coming back picking up the right person, we moved our defensemen back a bit and made sure we had even numbers,” Nemetz-Carlson said.
Goalie McGurry paid tribute to the team’s senior leadership.
“They stepped it up, everyone followed their example,” she said. “All throughout the year our team grew up a lotit showed here in this game, being able to pull off a one-goal win.”
Elmira is now riding an eight-game winning streak heading into Plattsburgh for the ECAC West playoffs in two weeks and a matchup with Utica. Bowdoin will have the No. 2 seed and play a NESCAC quarterfinal at home next Saturday against Connecticut College.