KINGSTON, R.I. – February 29, 2012 – Until last year, the University of Rhode Island reined supreme for eight straight seasons in the Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League.
Unable to bring home the championship cup last year, the Rams are again champions of the regional conference for women’s Division 1 club hockey.
Their championship victory over the weekend at URI’s Boss Arena has given the Rams great momentum going into the 2012 American Collegiate Hockey Association’s national tournament in Wooster, Ohio, March 8 through 11. In the national event, the third-seeded Rams will face off against the University of Michigan and arch-rival the University of Massachusetts on Thursday, March 8 and then face top seeded Robert Morris University on Friday. If they are successful, the Rams will gain a spot in the final four Saturday and Sunday.
The Rams entered the Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League championship tourney as the second seed behind Penn State, which captured the top seed by just a half-point.
The Rams began play against last year’s league and tournament champion, Northeastern University. Falling behind 1-0, Rhody came back strong with three unanswered goals to win 3-1. The win propelled the Rams to the championship game Sunday against Penn State, which had defeated UMass.
Led by its seniors, Rhode Island was prepared and came out with determination to bring the cup back to URI. Freshman Cassie Catlow, again scoring the game’s first goal in back-to-back games, put Rhody on top at 5:22 of the first period. Meg Birnie and Lauren Lanoie assisted on the goal. With 1:42 left in the period, Kayla Robidoux netted a beautiful wrist shot from the point that found its way through traffic to give Rhody a 2-0 lead.
Both teams came out with determination in the second period. Rhody’s defense and goalie Kayla DiLorenzo held Penn State’s potent offense scoreless again in the second period, while URI freshman Kristy Kennedy scored halfway through the period, with assists by Johanna Leskinen and Robidoux.
After killing two straight penalties in the third period, Penn State’s frustration grew, and URI ended up with a five-on-three advantage. The Rams capitalized when senior Birnie netted a rebound, with Alisha DiFilippo and Kennedy, assisting on the play, which gave URI a 4-0 advantage.
Penn State managed to break DiLorenzo’s shutout with 14 minutes left in the third period as she faced 17 shots.
“DiLo played great all weekend and gave us the confidence we needed to win the championship,” said head coach Beth McCann. “I am also pleased that Johanna Leskinen and Kayla were selected for the ECWHL All-Tournament Team.
“We also salute freshman Cassie Catlow, who was named the Tournament MVP. The Cat scored both games’ first goals to get URI off to a great start. She has been a great addition to URI this year. Her drive and passion for the sport has made her a main contributor to our program this season,” McCann said.
Rhody now heads to the national tournament brimming with confidence.