RIT Women Enjoy Outdoor Experience Despite Loss
During the first media timeout in the women’s hockey game on Saturday at blustery Frontier Field, four players — three from host RIT and another from Clarkson — rushed out to the ice, shovels in hand, ready to clear the rink of the steadily falling snow.
RIT’s Celeste Brown, Erin Zach and Morgan Scoyne and Clarkson’s Vanessa Gagnon took the place of the ice skate-less rink crew, making the ice suitable for another extended period of hockey. The Tigers ultimately lost, 6-2, to the sixth-ranked Golden Knights, but that felt unimportant considering the uniqueness and memorability of the event.
“It seemed like the crew was going to take a little bit too long,” RIT coach Scott McDonald said with a grin. “The girls, and even the Clarkson girls, were itching to get going. They were like, ‘They’re in shoes and we’re in the skates, so it is a little easier for us to be moving around.’ There was no lack of volunteers. I think they all wanted to jump over and grab a shovel.”
That effort and enthusiasm could be seen in RIT’s play. After a scoreless first period, the Golden Knights (14-4-2) scored three goals in 3:20 midway through the second. Clarkson maintained a 34-7 edge in shots after the second period.
The Tigers (9-10-1) kept chipping away. Senior Kolbee McCrea scored with 2:31 left in the second to move the Tigers to within 3-1. McCrea added her second goal just over a minute into the third period as the Clarkson lead shrunk to 3-2.
Clarkson senior Gagnon created a turnover in the neutral zone and skated in for a short-handed goal. Then 34 seconds later, sophomore Olivia Howe recorded another goal to stake Clarkson to a 5-2 lead.
Senior Carly Mercer finished with two goals and one assist for Clarkson. Senior Jamie Lee Rattray added another goal.
“I was really happy that the team responded the way they did,” Clarkson co-coach Matt Desrosiers said. “Some of those TV timeouts were kind of a godsend, because it allowed us to get our feet underneath us again. We told the girls that we are going to have to face some elements with the TV timeouts and the weather and anything else that was going to get thrown at us. They did a really good job maintaining focus.”
After RIT dropped its season-opener, 12-1, against the Golden Knights, McDonald noted his team’s growth.
“I told the girls in the locker room that I’m going to forget about the score in about two minutes,” said McDonald, “and remember the trains going by, the snow coming down, the water bottles freezing on the bench, people with shovels clearing the snow off the ice, and just being cold on the bench. It was an amazing experience. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for it.”
“It brings you back to when you were a kid playing pond hockey out there,” added RIT junior goalie Ali Binnington, who made 40 saves. “It reminds everyone why they are playing. We are playing the game because we love it. Sometimes, you get caught up in how serious the game is and when you play in a game like this, you’re reminded how fun it is and why you’re playing.”