The University of Connecticut women’s hockey team had gotten off to the best start they could have imagined, knocking off their first seven opponents to notch a record of 7-0. The Huskies looked to keep their winning ways going with two matchups this Halloweekend, first against Merrimack on Friday and then battling Vermont on Saturday, both at Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs.
Unfortunately for UConn, the Warriors were hungry to avenge their losses in the last two games. Goalkeeper Samantha Carpentier-Yelle stood strong as the first period progressed, making four saves on the Merrimack attack with the Huskies registering 13 shots in the first period themselves. Jada Habisch led the pressure with three shots, but the score remained 0-0 as the teams headed into the second period.
UConn came out in the second period ready to take the advantage, forcing Warriors goalkeeper Emma Gorski to save six shots in the span of the first four minutes, with Habisch, Danielle Fox, Natalie Snodgrass and Viki Harkness all getting chances to put the undefeated Huskies on top. Merrimack and UConn took turns with power play opportunities, and unfortunately for the Huskies, the visiting Warriors cashed in first.
With under a minute to play in the second period, Merrimack’s Katie Kaufman converted on a power play opportunity, coming off assists from Julia MacLean and Alexa Pongo to put the Warriors ahead going into the final frame 1-0 in Storrs.
The UConn offense never seemed to wake up on Friday night, with Gorski and Merrimack keeping them off the scoreboard throughout the duration of the contest. The Warriors padded their lead a minute into the third period with an Allison Reeb unassisted goal, and further with five minutes remaining as Kaufman found the back of the net to make the score 3-0, the final in UConn’s first loss of the season.
There was no time for the Huskies to dwell on the end of their undefeated dreams, as they battled Vermont in an afternoon showdown the next day. The Catamounts were eager to put the previous night’s game behind them as well, falling to Boston University in a shootout loss before making the trip to Storrs to take on UConn.
Similar to the start of Friday night’s game, Vermont and UConn were kept off the scoreboard in the first period due to exceptional goalie play from Carpentier-Yelle and Vermont goalkeeper Blanka Škodová, each turning away a handful of opportunities in order to keep their respective squads within striking distance early on. Again, UConn was forced to overcome an early deficit, as six minutes into the second period, Vermont’s Natalie Mlynkova put home the first goal of the afternoon, with an unassisted strike that put the Catamounts up 1-0.
Unlike Friday night, however, the Huskies would not go away quietly. After several Vermont chances to double their lead, and with ten seconds left in the period, UConn’s Danielle Fox evened the score off feeds from Taylor Warbick and Chloe Gonsalves for her fourth goal on the season to tie it up going into the third period.
Both squads had power play opportunities, with Fox getting called for a tripping call and Vermont’s Lily Humphrey getting called for a body check. However, none of the combined 14 shots could light the lamp, sending this game into overtime.
It did not take long for overtime to conclude, as Summer-Rae Dobson gave the Huskies a bounce-back win just 53 seconds into the extra frame, cashing in a Natalie Snodgrass feed to help UConn split their two games on the weekend. This win improved the Huskies’ record to 8-1 on the season with a 4-1 mark in conference play, the same mark on their home ice.
Up next for UConn is a home and home with Boston University, welcoming in the Terriers on Friday night at 6 p.m. before traveling to Beantown on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. in a key Hockey East showdown for both squads.