Bengals split with Pioneers, enter playoffs as fourth seed


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Forward Missy Mallon scored her eighth goal of the year in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Utica.

Louie DiBiase, Reporter

A historic season for the Buffalo State women’s hockey team will come to a crucial point this weekend. Playoff time has arrived.

The Bengals finished as the fourth seed in the ECAC West and will host a playoff game this weekend against Oswego State. It will be the first time in program history that Buffalo State women’s hockey hosts a postseason match.

“We are 0-0-0,so we need to make sure this week we are preparing physically and mentally to win one game,” head coach Candice Moxley said.

The Bengals clinched home ice this past weekend with a statement win against Utica, who was the No. 10 team in the country heading into Friday’s matchup. Buffalo State took down the Pioneers Friday in a 2-1 contest as the first part of a home and home this weekend.

After a defensive first period, Buffalo State sophomore forward Brooke Krantz opened up the scoring by netting her fifth goal of the season.

With only a few minutes left in the second period, Buffalo State was able to get a cushiony 2-0 lead after sophomore forward Rachel Lenard’s shot got past Utica goaltender Keira Goin.

The Pioneers were able to outshoot Buffalo State 25-19, but Bengals goaltender Justine Silva recorded 24 saves on the night. Silva has been shutting the door to secure the victory late in the third period all season.

Utica was able to get within one with 2:32 remaining in the third period, however a few blocked shots by junior defenseman Viivi Vaattovaara and freshman defender Madeline Kromer sealed the deal.

Beating the Pioneers a first time at home was difficult enough. Going on the road to get a second win against them the next day was even tougher.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for the Bengals as Utica was able to bounce back Saturday with a 4-2 victory.

Buffalo State again jumped out to a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, however, three straight goals in the third period for the Pioneers sealed the deal.

Sophomore forwards Maddie Toczek and Missy Mallon scored for Buffalo State.

After the series with Utica, every player has the same mind set as their coach: gear up for the playoffs with the idea that it represents the start of a new season.

It’s all about preparing for the matchup with Oswego for Moxley. She talked about fixing the mistakes made in the past Oswego matches while repeating the positives.

“The staff and I will review our games and film of Oswego from this past weekend to make sure we can prepare our team for whatever they may see system wise,” she said.

Buffalo State aims to take down Oswego State for the third and final time.

In the two regular season games this season, Buffalo State swept Oswego by scores of 2-1 and 3-0.

The Lakers outshot Buffalo State in both contests, but the strong goaltending of Justine Silva and capitalization on oddman rushes were crucial in both victories.

“We can’t dwell on previous results against Oswego; they are a hard working team and we can’t take them lightly. We need to improve in all areas, especially special teams, but also play with the heart we have all season,” Silva said. “Thankfully, we have everyone healthy and back in the lineup.”

If the Bengals win Saturday, they would play either away against the one seed Plattsburgh or two seed Elmira, depending on the result of the Utica vs. Cortland matchup.

Buffalo State would take on undefeated Plattsburgh with a Utica win, or would face Elmira with a win by the Soaring Eagles.

Regardless of what happens from here, the 2015-16 season will be seen as the season that launched the success of Buffalo State women’s hockey program. The Bengals broke the record for wins in a season with 18, but the team isn’t satisfied quite yet.

“We need to stick to the game plan and prove we want it more than any opponent,” Vaattovaara said.

Maybe the best feeling of any for coach Moxley and the program is that the core players that make up the roster are only freshman and sophomores. For this team, the sky is the limit.

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