In the second-to-last weekend series of the regular season, the UConn women’s hockey team took on Providence in a home-and-home set on Friday and Saturday. The Huskies hoped to build on their impressive record and win the season series against the Friars, who battled to a shootout early in the season that saw Providence come out on top.
Similar to other games in the season, the Huskies did not waste any time getting on the scoreboard first. Danika Pasqua scored her third goal of the season just one minute into the first period, on a feed from Amy Landry to put UConn ahead right away. From that moment on, however, Friars goalkeeper Sandra Abstreiter would lock down the Huskies, saving seven shots in the period. Multiple UConn attackers, including Natalie Snodgrass, Alex Anne-Boyer and Chloe Gonsalves all attempted, but failed, to pad the Huskies’ lead.
The goalkeeping energy was matched on the other side of the ice, as UConn’s Samantha Carpentier-Yelle saved shots from Providence attackers Delaney Couture, Brooke Becker and Lindsay Bochna, part of the eight overall shots that Providence looked to convert in the first period. They ultimately came up short, with UConn maintaining a slim 1-0 advantage going to the second.
The Friars were relentless in their pursuit of an equalizer, forcing Carpentier-Yelle to make five saves within the first three minutes of the second period. Both UConn and Providence had power play opportunities in the second, caused by a Claire Peterson interference call and a Hayley Lunny slashing from their respective squads. However, Abstreiter and Carpentier-Yelle respectively saved 10 and 13 shots to keep both offenses at bay.
While UConn successfully naturalized another Friar power play off of a Summer-Rae Dobson body checking penalty, it was a power-play chance of their own that opened the door for Providence to tie the game. Halfway through a UConn power play, the Friars tied the score on a shorthanded goal from Bochna. Bochna’s ninth goal of the season, this equalizer was one that Providence had been desperately searching for all game.
While it took the Friars all game to score their first goal, their pursuit for a second could not have been more different. One minute into the final period, Ashley Clark put Providence ahead with an even-strength goal, her second of the season, coming off a feed from Couture to force UConn into desperation mode. Nine different Huskies had opportunities on-goal to notch an equalizer, with Snodgrass, Jada Habisch and Morgan Wabick all having multiple shots on net in the third. But, it was the strength of Abstreiter, who had twelve saves in the final period and was part of a dazzling performance that saw her save 29 shots overall; this locked down an explosive UConn offense that could not build momentum on the early goal scored by Pasqua. With Carpentier-Yelle vacating the net to give the Huskies an extra attacker, Abstreiter remained strong, turning away Snodgrass, Wabick and Dobson, and lifting Providence to a 2-1 road victory in Storrs.
Hoping to salvage the weekend, UConn traveled to Providence on Saturday looking for a bounceback win and to create some road magic of their own. Despite great performances from Carpentier-Yelle and Abstreiter the previous night, there was no letdown on either side. Both goalkeepers recorded double-digit saves in the first period to keep both offenses at bay — and each of their respective squads in contention.
Wabick, Pasqua and Coryn Tomala all put pressure on the Providence defense in the initial minutes of the second period, but Abstreiter and the Friars continued to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard, a scoreless streak that dated back to the first period of Friday night. A Brooke Becker interference call opened the door for a UConn powerplay, and the scoreless streak was quickly snapped. Wabick fired home her fourth goal of the season, assisted by Viki Harkness and Snodgrass to break through for the Huskies and finally convert against Abstreiter. Despite receiving a tough loss on Friday, Carpentier-Yelle was outstanding on Saturday afternoon, saving all seven Providence shots in the second period, including all three opportunities from Bailey Burton.
In the third period, it was more of the same, as Carpentier-Yelle recorded eight more saves en route to a shutout overall, saving 28 Providence shots and helping UConn bounce back after a difficult home loss. Danielle Fox added an empty net goal in the closing minutes of the third for her tenth goal on the year, as the Huskies went on the road and took care of business in Providence, winning 2-0.
With the split series, the Huskies move to 22-7-3 on the season, and 16-6-3 in Hockey East play. UConn returns home for its final regular season home game of the year, which is against Northeastern and will be in the first of another home-and-home series. Northeastern has won four straight games and sports a 25-4-1 record. UConn will then travel to Boston on Saturday afternoon for the second game in this series.