Women’s hockey starts shortened season with first opening day-win in program history

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Photo Courtesy of Suffolk Athletics/Nick Perenick

Women’s hockey head coach Taylor Wasylk talks strategy to her team before their first game in almost a year

After 350 days of being away from competitive play, the Suffolk women’s hockey team defeated Nichols 5-3 on Friday for their first opening day win in program history. 

The game got out to a fast start, as sophomore Cassidy Gruning opened the scoring 27 seconds in to give Suffolk a 1-0 lead. About a minute later, however, Nichols tied the game at 1-1. 

Despite dominating possession in the offensive zone, the Rams struggled to get the puck in the back of the net for the remainder of the first period. Meanwhile, Nichols was able to jam the puck through the legs of freshman goalie Lily O’Neil with 1:40 left in the period to take a 2-1 lead. 

Nichols made a bizarre decision in the second period to switch out their goalie, which the Rams took full advantage of. At around the halfway point of the game, junior Stephanie Moy wristed home a beautiful shot to tie the game at two. That goal seemed to open the flood gates for Suffolk, as Shana Cote and Julia Volpe each tallied a goal to give the Rams a 4-2 lead at the second intermission. 

Nichols scored a power play goal early in the third period, but it hardly mattered. Suffolk kept their foot on the gas, as senior Meagan MacNeil potted one more goal for the Rams on the way to a 5-3 win.

The Rams put on a dominating performance with their ability to keep pressure going in the offensive end. By the end of the game, they had put up 51 shots on goal, while Nichols only managed 24.

Recording the game winning goal and an assist, junior Julia Volpe was voted as Suffolk Athletics’ first ever Ram of the Week by the Twitter community.

Friday’s game was one of many firsts for the Rams. Not only was this the first time in program history that they had won on opening day, but it was the first time that they had ever beaten Nichols. 

“The kids have been waiting to play a long, long time. They deserve it.”, said coach Taylor Wasylk about the win. “They worked their butts off all last semester and all this semester.”

It was also the first collegiate start and win for Lily O’Neil, who turned aside 21 of the 24 shots she faced. 

“It was exciting,” O’Neil said about her achievement. “I was a little nervous going into the game, but once I put my gear on and the jersey it all just went away and I was just playing with my teammates.” 

As part of the protocol for the shortened season, no fans were in attendance and players wore masks at all times. Multiple players said that the masks did not have an impact on their breathing or the length of their shifts. Junior and captain Madison Duff said, “We’ve been practicing with masks on for a few weeks now, so we pretty much got used to that in practice and by the time we were at the game it was normal.” 

Even with the restrictions, the Rams were ecstatic just to be back on the ice.

 “It felt amazing,” said junior and captain Shana Cote. “You forget how much you miss playing games and how hard it is. During the game, I was getting tossed around, but I was having so much fun.” 

Follow Jamie on Twitter @JamieTaris