The University of Connecticut women’s hockey team ran into a bit of a speedbump against the University of Maine Black Bears during their best start in program history.
On Friday, the Huskies were in control right from the get-go. Not even two minutes into the contest, the Huskies went on the powerplay as Maine’s Alyssa Wruble was assessed an elbowing penalty. The Huskies would take several shots throughout the powerplay, but Loryn Porter was making saves left and right to keep the Huskies off the board.
UConn would continue to bring the pressure, and it ultimately led to another powerplay as Maine was assessed a two-minute minor for body checking. Thanks to some tight-knit Black Bear defense, the Huskies were limited to only one shot this time.
The Husky powerplay may not have capitalized, but the Husky penalty kill made sure the Black Bears did not capitalize either. After two interference penalties on Morgan Wabick, the Huskies made some key saves and critical blocks to keep the game knotted at zero.
UConn had some incredible chances that were either blocked or came up short through half of the second period. All their great chances could not stop Maine’s Jennifer Costa from breaking the ice as she fired a rocket past Samantha Carpentier-Yelle.
The Huskies were still fired up offensively and they continued to rain shots down in the attacking zone for the rest of the second period. The best chance of the game came in the third as Summer-Rae Dobson nearly tied this contest at one apiece; however, her shot clanged off the post.
The Huskies had one more chance to tie up the contest as Ida Press was given a penalty for body checking. On the powerplay, the Huskies got four shots that had potential to find the back of the net. However, none of them did, and after killing off the penalty, Maine would hold on to take the 1-0 victory over the Huskies.
Saturday’s game was a barnburner right from the start. In the first five minutes of the game, the Huskies found themselves on a 5-on-3 powerplay. They took full advantage of the opportunity as Claire Peterson found the back of the net to give the Huskies an early 1-0 advantage. It was Peterson’s second goal of the season.
Alexandra Anne-Boyer, who collected the assist on the opening goal, was assessed a penalty for interference, and Maine would take advantage of that by pressuring Carpentier-Yelle as often as they could. It worked in their favor, as Ida Kuoppala finished off the scramble up front by sending the puck into the back of the net.
With around four minutes left, Peterson would go to the box for hooking and Maine had total control for the entire power play. It ultimately led to Press burying a shot from the middle of the attacking zone to give the Black Bears a 2-1 lead.
The second period was more of a defensive standoff until Maine decided to take a timeout seven minutes in because the Huskies had been controlling the offensive attack. That change came two minutes later when, after another scuffle for the puck up front, Maddie Giordano somehow put one into the net to give the Black Bears a 3-1 lead. It was hard to tell if the play was dead by the time the puck got in, but with no video review, the game continued.
The Huskies continued to collect chance after chance after chance, hoping to mount some sort of comeback. Their first big opportunity came with a little over two minutes left in the period as Ally Trimper was given a two-minute penalty for tripping.
After several close opportunities, Dobson was able to tip a shot past Porter that cut the deficit down to 3-2 and gave Dobson her fifth goal of the year. If that was not enough momentum, the Huskies went back on the powerplay 17 seconds later, as Wruble would get assessed for a hooking penalty.
UConn would carry that momentum into the third period, where Taylor Wabick would rifle her first goal of the season, and what a critical goal it was. In less than two minutes, the Huskies came back from 3-1 to tie the game at three.
That poked the Black Bear offense awake, as Ali Beltz pocketed an incredible shot past Megan Warrener, who had replaced Carpentier-Yelle in the crease, to give Maine the 4-3 lead. With 12 minutes left in regulation however, this game was far from over.
The Huskies would find their chance in the final two minutes of regulation. Danielle Fox had come up short on her last three shots, but she would not be denied this time as Viki Harkness set her up with a great finish. With her fifth goal of the season, the Huskies and Black Bears were tied at four.
That stalemate carried over into an intense five minutes of overtime. UConn won the shot battle 6-2, but with neither team finding the back of the net, the game continued into a shootout.
In a nutshell, Dobson and Beltz had their shots saved by the goaltenders in the first round and Natalie Snodgrass almost got one into the net in the second round, but it was Rahel Enzler from Maine that buried home the game-winner, as M. Wabick would have her shot in the third round saved to seal the deal.
The game officially ended in a 4-4 tie. As a result of winning the shootout, however, the Black Bears (4-8-1, 2-5-1 Hockey East) earn the extra point.
The Huskies (11-2-1, 6-2-1 Hockey East) will take on the Providence Friars on Friday, Nov. 19, at 6:00 p.m. EST at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum before traveling up to Boston to play No. 4 Northeastern. Livestreaming access is available via SportsLive with live stats from StatBroadcast.