Women's Hockey: Huskies battle from behind at Freitas Ice Forum

UConn women's ice hockey sophomore forward Theresa Knutson (middle) skates toward the net during the Huskies' game against Syracuse at the Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs, Connecticut on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

The UConn women’s hockey team does not have the word quit in their vocabulary this season. The Huskies battled from behind to pick up a 4-3 win against Syracuse on Saturday and erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period to tie Colgate in overtime on Sunday.

“I’m proud of the comeback, proud of the battle and compete level of our team. We just haven’t quit,” UConn head coach Chris MacKenzie said after the game. “Every one of our games has been this way the whole season, so we’ve got our effort level and compete level perfect. Now we just need to execute.”

Syracuse (2-3-0) netted two goals in the first ten minutes of Saturday’s game before UConn responded with a goal of their own by sophomore Justine Fredette on the power play. 16 seconds later, sophomore Madison Badeau tied it up at 2-2. When Syracuse took another lead in the second period, UConn bounced back quickly. Freshman Jordy Zacharias tied the game less than a minute later on an assist from junior Jessica Stott.

With just over two minutes left to play, the Huskies finally got ahead. Sophomore Theresa Knutson scored on her own rebound to seal a 4-3 victory and move the team’s record to 1-1-1. Although the Huskies were outshot 36-19, sophomore goaltender Annie Belanger recorded 33 saves and earned the win.

UConn received another stellar performance from their goaltender on Sunday. This time it was senior Elaine Chuli who kept the Huskies alive against an undefeated Colgate team. Colgate outshot UConn 43-26, but Chuli was able to save 40 of those shots.

“Our goalies have given us a chance to win and compete in every game we’ve played in and tonight was no exception,” MacKenzie said after Sunday’s game. “We have confidence in both of them and they give us a chance to win.”

Colgate (3-0-1) opened the scoring on Sunday with a power play goal five minutes into the second period after a scoreless first. Once again, the Huskies responded quickly. Senior Margaret Zimmer ripped a wrist shot past Colgate goaltender Ashlynne Rando on an assist from sophomore Leah Lum to tie it up at the 7:05 mark.

The Raiders capitalized on power play opportunities late in the second period and early in the third to take a 3-1 lead, but UConn wasn’t done battling. Multiple scuffles appeared to re-energize the Huskies, who outshot Colgate 13-8 in the third period after being outshot 18-4 in the second. UConn scored their first power play goal of the game midway through the third period as senior Leah Buress spun off a defender and put a backhander through the five-hole of Rando. Less than five minutes later, junior Brittany Berisoff, the game’s first star, collected her third goal of the season. Fredette was tripped on the play, but was able to leave the puck for Berisoff, who put it home in front of the net. UConn was unable to capitalize on a power play opportunity in overtime and the game finished in a 3-3 tie.

MacKenzie was excited with the fight in his team, but admitted he would like to build more leads as the season goes along.

“If we get in a hole or get behind, then we respond. What I’d like to think is, why don’t we just act that way all the time like we’re down and keep going,” McKenzie said. “We’re fairly inexperienced with having a big lead, so we’re kind of used to these one-goal games. Maybe we’re more comfortable just playing in those, but I think that’s how it’s going to be the whole year with us. I think we’re gonna have real close games and real close battles and we’ll go from there.”


Aaron Esposito is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at aaron.esposito@uconn.edu.