The UConn women’s ice hockey team (5-3-2) recorded their first Hockey East conference win this weekend after a 3-0 win in game one of their home-and-home series with Merrimack College (1-6-1). They also went on to receive additional conference points, winning the shootout in game two after tying Merrimack 2-2 in a comeback effort.
In game one, UConn showed strength from the puck drop. Not even two minutes into the start of the game, freshman Megan Woodworth found the back of the net for her first NCAA goal off of a slick pass from junior Jada Habisch. Not long after, the Huskies cashed in on the first power play of the night with a rocket of a goal from senior Claire Peterson to advance them 2-0 over the Warriors.
UConn played arguably its best defensive game of the season, allowing Merrimack to only record 14 shots on goal, which were all saved by sophomore goaltender Tia Chan. The Huskies’ final goal of the game came late in the second period with another power play goal off of a tip-in from graduate student Carlie Magier off of a Peterson wrist shot. Both teams failed to score in the third period, and the Huskies went on to record a huge 3-0 shutout win over the Warriors to finally enter the win column in conference play.
Merrimack certainly learned and studied UConn’s play from game one, as they played like an entirely different team during Saturday’s matchup at Freitas Ice Forum for the second matchup of the series. Right off the bat in the first period, the Warriors picked apart the Huskies’ defense as they peppered the net with shots. Luckily, Chan was able to save 12 out of the 13 shots she faced, as Merrimack sophomore Alexa Pongo cashed in on a wrist shot with eight minutes left in the first period to put the Warriors ahead 1-0.
UConn was able to answer back midway through the second period with a goal from senior captain Coryn Tormala to tie the game up, 1-1. After more back-and-forth tense play, which was the story of this game, the Warriors were able to score once again and take the lead 2-1 after a goal from senior Katie Kaufman.
The hero of the Huskies for this game would undoubtedly be the skater holding the net down: Chan. The sophomore recorded 23 total saves on the game, and her resiliency within the crease allowed her team to make a late bounce back from their one-goal deficit as freshman Brooke Campbell scored the tying goal with 4:09 left in the third period to make it a 2-2 game.
Chan’s challenge was far from over, as she was forced to make three critical saves with the game on the line as it progressed into three-on-three overtime. The game continued to go on to be tied as overtime came to an end, resulting in a shootout. Peterson came in clutch for the Huskies as she netted a goal in the fourth round of the shootout to give the team two Hockey East conference points. Even though UConn went on to win the game in the shootout, it is still recorded as a tie to both team’s records.
This forward momentum is exactly what Chris MacKenzie’s skaters needed as they escaped their recent four game skid and look to turn their season around. They will look to add to this progress as they prepare for their next battle this weekend against the Maine Bears, another Hockey East opponent. Luckily for the Huskies, they will play both games of their Friday and Saturday series on their home ice at the Freitas Ice Forum with a Friday night 6 p.m. start and a 3 p.m. puck drop on Saturday.