Women’s hockey slips against Soaring eagles


Dave Deluca/ The Record

Silva recorded 30 saves in the loss on Friday

Louie DiBiase, Reporter

Two years back, the Buffalo State women’s hockey team had only 11 skaters and were just looking to gain some recognition and to put a competitive team on the ice.

Two seasons later, the Bengals are 15-6 and are one of the most formidable programs at Buffalo State.

This past weekend, however the Bengals suffered two big losses to the Elmira Soaring Eagles, a team that has dominated the ECAC West in recent years and is No. 3 in D-III.

The Soaring Eagles came into the weekend at second place in the ECAC West with a 15-3-1 record, behind only undefeated Plattsburgh.

Friday at the Buffalo State Ice Arena, the Bengals were hoping to make a statement and prove that they can compete with D-III’s best.

Despite their efforts, the Bengals couldn’t overcome the Soaring Eagles in a closely contested 3-1 game that showcased two goaltenders who are both having impressive seasons in Buffalo State’s Justine Silva and Elmira’s Kelcey Crawford.

Crawford headed into the night with a 9-2 record and a .924 save percentage.

Silva has arguably been the most valuable player for the Bengals, posting a 13-4 starting record along with a .945 save percentage. She made some big saves to keep Buffalo State in the contest, finishing the night with 30 saves. However, it wasn’t enough as Elmira had the upper hand in offensive chances.

“We had great moments and displayed promising effort especially during the first game. However, we had a few mental lapses that the No. 3 team in the nation will capitalize on, and they did,” Silva said.

The Eagles had 33 shots on goal and were more opportunistic with their chances.

After the Bengals took the lead in the first period thanks to a breakaway goal from winger Christine Harris, the Eagles responded with a breakaway goal of their own. Eagles forward McKenna Farole was able to steal the puck and bury it glove side on Silva.

Both teams had an abundance of odd-man rushes, especially the Bengals. Buffalo State forward Christine Harris and Erin Gehen both had success stealing the puck in the neutral zone, but Elmira goaltender Kelce Crawford shut the door after the first goal of the game by Harris.

Gehen and Harris had 7 shots combined.

In the second period, Elmira gained a lot of momentum as Buffalo State forwards tried to make too many plays on their own and paid dearly.

Sloppy passing from the Bengals played a factor as well. The Bengals struggled to settle the bouncing puck in the second period, which allowed Elmira to capitalize with some chances on turnovers.

Elmira won the crucial faceoff battles on both sides of the ice as Buffalo State struggled to get the puck out of their own zone. Elmira won 25 face-offs over the Bengals’ 17.

“We really showed we can skate with the top teams during Friday’s game,” team captain Viivi Vaattovaara said. “We didn’t get the outcome we wanted this weekend, but we are looking forward and definitely showed we can compete with any team in this league.”

While Friday was close and competitive, Saturday was a different story altogether for the Bengals. The Soaring Eagles outshot Buffalo State 45 to 18 and shut out them out 5-0.

Elmira set the tone with two goals in the first five minutes. After that, the Bengals struggled to gain any sort of momentum.

With the team in front of her struggling, Silva still finished the night with 40 saves, but it wasn’t enough.

Leading goal scorer Erin Gehen and the team are keeping a positive attitude and hope for more consistency going forward.

“We need to keep our heads up and just continue to work hard. We need to play a full 60-minute game and stay completely focused,” Gehen said.

Buffalo State is now 15-6, good for fourth in the ECAC West. The Bengals take on Cortland (9-10) this week, hoping to catch up to Utica for third in the ECAC West as they trail by only half a game.

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