Despite dropping the last four games of their season, the Bowdoin women’s hockey team is heading to the NESCAC playoffs. Going into its quarterfinal matchup against Colby on Saturday, the team is hoping to rebuild some momentum to cap off a season of growth following last winter, when the team went 3-19-2 and missed out on a NESCAC playoff spot for the first time since 2001.
“This year, we’re really excited to come back and redeem ourselves,” said Julia Surgenor ’21.
The team struggled in February, losing six of its last seven games, including two to both Trinity and top-ranked Middlebury. But rather than dwelling on the difficult ending, the team is focusing on what went well.
“We put up a really good fight,” said Izzi Stoddard ’21. “We skated with [Middlebury] for 60 minutes in both Friday and Saturday’s game.”
Against Middlebury, Surgenor scored on a power play in the first period, ruining the Panthers’ perfect penalty-kill record for the season.
“We ended [Middlebury’s streak], so we’re pretty excited about the small victories,” said Surgenor.
Small victories make a big difference for this team that has made marked improvements from last year. After last year’s subpar performance, the team ended this regular season with a 8-13-3 (4-11-1 NESCAC) record, good for the seventh seed in the playoffs.
A change in mentality has been a big part of that rebound.
“A big thing this year for us was [that] the captains really valued accountability and communication within the team, something our coaches really preached as well,” said Surgenor. “Being able to call each other out in a productive way and communicate effectively about what we can be doing better as a team [is so important].”
In addition to a shift in mentality, the team has also been more productive on offense, scoring 2.04 goals per game compared to just 1.33 last year. Getting defensive players involved in offensive play has bolstered the team’s overall production, Surgenor said.
“We have a lot of really offensive-minded defensemen who get involved in the play, which I think is really helpful in generating more offense than we have been able to in the past,” said Surgenor.
The team has also adopted an offensive strategy involving three forwards for the end of the season and continues to take that offense-first mindset into the playoffs. The Polar Bears open the playoffs against second-ranked Colby on Saturday.
“Obviously, we have a great tradition and rivalry with Colby, and since I’ve been at Bowdoin, we haven’t really faced them much in the postseason,” said Surgenor. “We’re just really excited to see them.”
The Polar Bears haven’t played the Mules in the playoffs since 2014 when they earned a 4-2 victory in the NESCAC semifinal. This year, the team dropped both its games against the Mules in the second week of the season—2-1 at home and 2-0 on the road.
Stoddard says the team is going into the playoffs better prepared than they were at the beginning of the season.
“We haven’t seen them since the first weekend, and we know as a team we’ve built throughout this season, so they don’t really know how much we’ve changed for the better,” said Stoddard.
Regardless of the outcome, the game will be historic.
“It’s [Colby’s] last game in their rink because they’re getting a new rink [next fall], so we’re excited to be a part of that and the history of Bowdoin-Colby hockey,” said Surgenor.
The Polar Bears take the ice against Colby at 3 p.m. this Saturday in Waterville with the hope of advancing to the NESCAC semifinals.