BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The first sign that the Chatham girls ice hockey team was going to have a good night came about six minutes into the first period when Jen Olnowich skated past two defenders and lifted a backhand shot into the net to tie the game for Chatham.
Senior defender Olnowich finished the game with a goal and an assist and Chatham received goals from Molly Coyne, Kara Groh and Lauren Arias in the 4-2 win over Oak Knoll for the Cougar girls' first win in program history on Friday at the Bridgewater Sports Arena.
Olnowich, who also plays goalie for the Cougar varsity boys team, had missed the opening game of the season because of a scheduling conflict. Chatham had also been missing Kate Romano and Cate Gallagher, who both returned from preseason injuries to play vs. Oak Knoll.
"Last game against Immaculate Heart we had a short bench, with only three defensemen," Coyne said.
Oak Knoll had taken a 1-0 lead 4:04 into the action before Olnowich carried inside the blue line and deked her way past two defenders before lifting a backhand into the net (see below) six minutes in.
Coyne followed with an unassisted goal with 1:21 left in the period, skating into the center of the ice before firing a high shot that hit the net for a 2-1 Chatham advantage (see below).
The Cougars closed out the first period with their third straight goal as Arias made the pass in front and Groh skated onto the puck and finished her chance from the doorstep seconds before the buzzer sounded (see below).
The game remained 3-1 until Olnowich made a cross-ice pass to Arias, who knocked it home at the far post to make it 4-1 with 7:51 to play in the third period (see below).
"I'm pretty excited," Olnowich said. "I feel like we're starting like we finished last year with a good game against a tough team. Everyone is really excited. (Goalie Grace Zinn) played really, really well today and it's good to know we have a goalie we can count on. It's busy (to play for two teams), but I'm enjoying it."
Zinn gave up 11 goals in the season-opening loss whe Chatham was short-handed on defense. The junior's second ice hockey game produced 22 saves, including stops of breakaway chances by Oak Knoll in both the second and third periods when the lead was just two goals. Zinn talks about her first win in the video below.