No. 3-seeded Amherst women’s hockey returned to action this past weekend, taking on the No. 6 seed Bowdoin Polar Bears in the NESCAC Tournament Quarterfinals. With a dominating second and third period performance, the Mammoths easily dispatched the Polar Bears 5-0 to move on to the NESCAC semifinals next weekend.
However, the game didn’t start as smoothly as the Mammoths had likely hoped. In stark contrast to their hot start last weekend against Colby in their final contest of the regular season, the team came out of the locker room flat in their first postseason game since 2020. Bowdoin commanded the first 20 minutes of play, notching a lopsided 19 shots on goal to Amherst’s three, and earning two power-play opportunities to the Mammoths’ one. However, Mammoth netminder Caitlin Walker ’22 came to play, stopping all 19 of the Polar Bears’ shots in the first period. That single-period total is higher than the number of total saves she has recorded in five other games this season.
With Walker putting in work on the defensive end, the Mammoths’ offense finally found a spark. On the power play with about two minutes to go in the first frame, Rylee Glennon ’24 collected the puck on the blue line and slid it to Avery Flynn ’23, who slotted a perfectly placed cross-ice pass to Alyssa Xu ’25 for an easy finish into a mostly open net. While the goal was waved off due to goaltender interference, it was the momentum shift that the Mammoths needed. The teams left the ice at the horn with the score still tied 0-0.
Glennon said of her team’s performance, “We started off a little slow, but with Walks [Walker] playing amazing in net we were able to feed off her energy and pick it up in the second and third.”
And pick it up they did. After a first period defined by offensive struggles, the Mammoths scored twice in the first five minutes of the second to seize the momentum. The first goal came less than a minute into the period, when Carley Daly ’23 won the puck on the forecheck deep in the Mammoths’ offensive zone. She curled towards the net, taking two shots on goal that Bowdoin goaltender Dani Martinez could not cleanly corral. After the Polar Bears’ goalie gave up the second rebound, Leslie Schwartz ’23 made sure it was the last, launching a rocket that went bar-down for the Mammoths’ first goal of the game. Only four minutes later, Angelina Wiater ’22 collected a loose puck just outside the offensive zone, and Kate Pohl ’23 finished off the resulting two-on-one opportunity with a wrister set up by another beautiful cross-ice pass to double the Mammoths’ lead. The second period would end with the score standing at 2-0 in favor of Amherst.
The third period was no different than the second. The Mammoths again got on the board early, this time via the stick of Glennon. After she won the puck on defense, Glennon poked it up the ice to Xu, who transitioned into the offensive zone. In another well-executed two-on-one opportunity, Glennon received a return pass from Xu and beat Martinez with a backhand to give the Mammoths a 3-0 lead.
Bowdoin appeared to quickly narrow the gap to 3-1, but their goal was also disallowed, and the Mammoths took advantage only 20 seconds later. Winning the resulting faceoff, the Mammoths quickly broke out of their zone, with Xu again finding Glennon skating up the ice. She entered the offensive zone with a three-on-one opportunity, skating to the right side of the zone and firing a shot from the faceoff circle past the Bowdoin goaltender for her second goal of the game. With her two goals on the day, Glennon now leads the team in both goals and assists, with nine goals and 11 assists, good for a team-leading 20 points. She also leads the team in shots, with 99 on the season.
The Mammoths finished off their offensive explosion by adding their fifth goal of the game with only 1:48 remaining, this time courtesy of Daly. The junior forward finished off yet another Mammoth odd-man-rush opportunity (the third time on the day) with a wrister into the top corner off of a pass from Elizabeth Holubiak ’22. The final horn would sound just over a minute later, with the Mammoths advancing to the NESCAC semifinals off of a 5-0 win.
Following the win, the team is looking forward to playing with the NESCAC’s best next weekend. “Saturday’s game was a huge team effort … [and] I think we have the talent and heart to make it really far in the tournament,” Glennon said. “We are all really excited to prove ourselves [to the rest of the league] next weekend in Vermont.”
With the win, the Mammoths move to 13-8-2 on the season and advance to take on No. 2-seeded Colby for the third time in two weeks, this time with a berth in the NESCAC championship on the line. The game will be played at No. 1 seed Middlebury, who will take on No. 4 seed Hamilton in the other semifinal matchup.
The puck will drop for the Mammoths’ contest with the Mules at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 5.