Backup goaltender Annie Belanger started in net for UConn after usual starter Elaine Chuli had played two long games against Northeastern over the weekend. Unfortunately, the result was no different for the Huskies as they lost to Princeton 4-0, their third four-goal loss in a row.
“She [Elaine Chuli] went two nights in a row over the weekend and with her Hockey Canada commitments, we gave her the night off and Annie’s more than capable. She was solid tonight, we gave them a couple gifts tonight,” said head coach Chris MacKenzie on the goalie change.
UConn spent lots of time in their own zone early, and it showed as Belanger was forced to make a number of saves early in the game, including a nice glove save with Princeton rushing down the ice two on one. Belanger made eight saves halfway through the first period, but failed to make the save on a Princeton rebound opportunity, where Audrey Potts put in the rebound from Jaimie McDonell’s shot with 10:24 to go in the first.
Failing to get the puck out of their own zone on three occasions a few minutes later, the Huskies surrendered a second goal after a series of shots at Belanger. The goal was scored by Morgan Sly, who was fed a nice pass by Molly Contini in the buildup.
Belanger was playing very well but the theme of the night for the Huskies seemed to be getting the puck out of the zone and containing the speed and precise passing of Princeton’s players.
MacKenzie discussed how to contain the Tigers’ speed post game, “We were making them dump it [to contain their speed] and we were doing a pretty good job of making them dump it. What was happening was we’d get to the puck, create our breakout opportunity, but we just weren’t able to connect on those. We weren’t coming out [of the zone] clean and we’d have extended shifts in our zone and it ended up wearing us down.”
An early penalty against the Huskies in the second period set up a great power play by the Tigers, who worked the puck around the offensive zone for 30 seconds before a shot from the point by Kelsey Koelzer slid past Belanger and put Princeton ahead 3-0 1:08 into the second period.
UConn had a number of power play opportunities later in the period, but to no avail, as the Tigers’ penalty killing unit was on their game for the evening, sending the Huskies back on almost every rush without a decent scoring opportunity.
MacKenzie commented on the power play unit after the game saying, “We gotta get the puck through [that first blocker], create some type of rebound. Our power play’s been clicking pretty well this year, but they do a job of killing and they continued to do that.”
UConn got on the attack early in the third period with a number of close misses with the opposition’s goalie, Kimberly Newell, nearly caught out of position in net. Princeton gave the Huskies flashes of hope with two more power play opportunities and a less energetic forecheck in the later stages of the third period. However, on yet another rush down the ice, Princeton scored with a slick backdoor pass from Morgan Sly for an easy goal by Cassidy Tucker to make the game 4-0.
As the game came to a close, every odd-man rush UConn got, it seemed Princeton’s speed instantly squashed the chances of a goal. UConn managed to prevent any more shots from going in the net but Princeton definitely overpowered the Huskies in a tough matchup against a ranked opponent.
When asked about adjustments the team needs to make before next weekend’s away matchups at Vermont, MacKenzie responded “Rest. We’re gonna rest, we’re gonna recharge. At this point in the year, practices are very short and intense. We have to keep the mental game focused.”
Chris Hanna is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.