The UConn women’s hockey team had an excellent showing in their last two home games of the year, clinching a home-ice spot for the conference tournament and giving their seniors a good send-off with a weekend sweep of Maine, including a 4-3 win on Senior Day.
Seven Huskies played their last regular season home game for the Huskies on Saturday and it was fitting that most of the contributions on the day came from the senior class. Margaret Zimmer started the day with a fantastic rendition of the national anthem, which got her teammates fired up and surely gave the team a boost.
Brittany Berisoff immediately contributed with two goals in the first period and Zimmer would add on to the scoreboard with a huge slap shot in the second period. On the Huskies’ final goal, scored by junior Kelly Harris, it was still all about the seniors as Leah Buress and Zimmer had a series of great passes leading to the goal.
For a senior class that has been with the program since its darkest times, it was fitting that they were the big contributors on the night, as they usher in UConn into better days of women’s hockey.
“I think it’s a class that is a very resilient bunch,” coach Coach MacKenzie said of the seniors post-game. “They went through a coaching change with us but I appreciate the fact they bought into what we’re trying to do as a staff. They’re gritty, they play hard, and they’re team players.”
Berisoff Strong on Senior Day
It was a fairly emotional day for senior Brittany Berisoff, whose performance was critical in the team’s win on Saturday.
“The emotions are pretty high, lots of tears here and there, but it feels great having my family here—they don’t live close—to come out and see me play, it’s a special feeling,” Berisoff said.
Having scored two early goals in her final regular-season home game, Berisoff was ecstatic about her performance.
“I honestly don’t know a feeling that can top it. It’s just a big relief off our shoulders to come out strong like that,” she said.
As a leader on the team, however, Berisoff was still looking forward to two big games against New Hampshire next weekend, which precede the conference tournament.
“We’re just practicing hard and keeping ourselves conditioned,” she said. “Playoff hockey is definitely different. It’s the same game but tensions are high and there’s a lot more on the line, so we’re gonna keep our head down and keep on working hard.”
Elaine Chuli Breaks Conference Saves Record
It would be a crime to not mention Chuli in a discussion about this senior class. She is the team’s rock in net and anchors their defense on a game-to-game basis. MacKenzie has stressed time and time again how vital she is to the team and once again she showed that on Senior Day.
With her final save on Saturday, her 33rd of the game, she broke the all-time Hockey East career saves record, previously held by Roxanne Douville. Chuli now has 2,144 conference saves over her four-year career at UConn and she has two more regular season games and the conference tournament to extend that record.
“We rely on her almost too much sometimes,” MacKenzie said. “I think we really appreciate her effort. When you know her and you see her everyday and how hard she works, you’re not surprised at the success she has. She’s set a great example of what a student-athlete should be in class, in the community and on the ice. She’ll go down with the saves record and it speaks to her success.”
Chuli didn’t even know that she was close to breaking the Hockey East record.
“No, I didn’t know, Jen (the team’s sports information director) just told me,” Chuli said. “I think we definitely could’ve played better this weekend. We squeaked two wins out, but we need to play better as a team for sure and just improve on the little details.”
Perhaps it says something about Chuli’s humility, personality and team-first mentality that she didn’t know about the record and was more concerned with improving as a team ahead of the playoffs.
Chris Hanna is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.