Bengals top Nichols, Plymouth State


Dave DeLuca/The Record file photo

Senior forward Nikki Kirchberger posted a hat trick in Buffalo State’s 4-1 win over Chatham on Saturday.

Louie DiBiase, Reporter

A season of lofty expectations and high hopes rests on the shoulders of a young Buffalo State Bengals women’s hockey team.

Heading into the season, head coach Candice Moxley has the responsibility of leading a roster with only two seniors.

In the first weekend of matchups, the Bengals took down both Nichols University and Plymouth State by scores of 6-2 and 2-1. The team found different ways to win in each matchup.

Against Nichols, Buffalo State struck first with two minutes to go in the first period. Forward Brooke Krantz fed sophomore Christine Harris to put the Bengals up 1-0.

Two goals in the second period gave Buffalo State a comfortable 3-1 lead heading into the third period. The Bengals went 1 of 4 on the power play, but the only goal on a man-advantage came at a crucial point to put the Bengals up by three goals, right when the Bisons were pulling some offensive opportunities together.

Sophomore Erin Gehen netted two shorthanded goals in the third period to wrap up the game. The West Seneca native played a key role in the victory on Friday night, notching her first collegiate hat trick.

Coach Moxley was pleased that the team received strong contributions from younger players. Moxley called for consistency through 60 minutes.

“One of our biggest struggles from last year was our inability to string together a solid 60-minute effort,” Moxley said. “We had a number of players rise to the occasion and our freshmen all logged significant minutes and contributed, which is really exciting to see.”

The second game of the weekend against the Plymouth State Panthers presented a tougher test.

After taking a two-goal lead in the second period, the Bengals allowed the Panthers to get back into the game after Panthers forward Olivia Leon scored on the power play with four minutes to go in the third period.

Buffalo State goaltender Justine Silva closed the game out with a few big saves to seal the victory for the Bengals. She finished the night with 16 saves.

Buffalo State dominated in the shot category against both teams. The Bengals had 51 shots against Nichols and 42 against Plymouth State. They threw pucks to the net which allowed for many rebounds and scoring opportunities.

“Our forecheck was very strong this weekend,” forward Maddie Toczek said. “We had a lot of shots on goal and kept pressure on their defenseman in the offensive zone. We made it pretty hard for them to break the puck out of their own zone. Our team is very fast and we did a good job being the first to loose pucks.”

Versatile forward/defenseman Vivi Vaattovaara mirrored Coach Moxley’s thoughts.

“We came out ready to go from the first period and on which really set the tone for the whole weekend,” Vaattovaara said.

The junior also believed that finding a way to beat Plymouth State in a close one-goal game was big for the team’s development.

“During our second game, we executed when it really counted and didn’t crumble under pressure,” Vaattovaara said. “Overall, we had a great team effort in both games.”

The Bengals are 2-0 and will take on Potsdam at the Buffalo State Ice Arena on Saturday. Potsdam is 1-0-1 after tying Saint Michaels on Friday night, and defeating Saint Michaels on Saturday night.

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