Purple Knights Slip in Weekend Opener Versus University of New England, 3-2

Purple Knights Slip in Weekend Opener Versus University of New England, 3-2

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's ice hockey team slipped against the University of New England, 3-2, in the opener of a two-game weekend series on Friday evening in Cairns Arena. The Purple Knights are 2-9, while the Nor'easters improved to 3-2-4, playing their eighth game decided by a goal or less. The Purple and Gold concludes its first-semester slate with the second game of the series tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Saint Michael's returned from a two-week layoff with its first home game since Nov. 4. Seniors Ashley Dineen (Somers, N.Y./Canterbury School) and Katherine O'Brien (East Sandwich, Mass./Tilton School) both scored, while junior Nicole Talcott (Colchester, Vt./Rice Memorial Prep) had 37 saves. Senior Kaitlyn Wurzer (Lee, N.H./Berwick Academy) was 12-of-20 on faceoffs, and classmate Jillian Witwicki (Danvers, Mass./Pingree School) went 8-for-14 at the dot.

Sophomore Tatum Gietl and first-years Shannon Upton and Kyra Yu all tallied for the Nor'easters, and sophomore Caty Flagg made 23 saves.

Talcott kept the game scoreless with three blocker saves over the opening 9:22 of the first period, but the Nor'easters broke through at 11:52 on a power play. After a failed clear by the Purple Knights, a second effort was kept in by junior Julianne Sheehan at the blue line. Sheehan skated high into the left circle before centering for Yu, whose redirected pass trickled through Talcott. The netminder denied sophomore MaryKate Drinkwater's bid during a 3-on-1 rush just 13 seconds later, and sophomore Alissa Sullivan (Hingham, Mass./Hingham) had a pair of tries denied in the final 3:50 of the stanza, with one blocked during a power play and another stopped by Flagg.

Dineen tied the game 2:21 into the second period, with first-year Courtney Kelly's (Arlington, Mass./Boston Jr. Shamrocks) long pass from deep in her own zone springing Dineen to skate alone on net before lifting a shot over Flagg's right shoulder. Talcott held the left post at 7:01 to deny sophomore Michaela McLaughlin, and Witwicki's slap shot from the slot was turned away during an odd-woman rush at 7:50 before junior Madison Nichols' (Gilford, N.H./Tilton School) follow-up try was stopped at the right post. Talcott made back-to-back saves around 9:35 before a third bid slipped just wide of the right post. Talcott registered another four stops during a scoreless Nor'easter power play that began at 13:44, and a blocked shot at 17:34 was redirected to the top of the crease for sophomore Meagan Accardi, who Talcott denied on the doorstep. The goalie posted two more saves on shots through traffic around 18:20, but a giveaway behind the net on the second rebound led to McLaughlin sending a short pass to Upton, who roofed a shot over Talcott's left shoulder at 18:29 from the right circle.

First-year Krista Ferrari (Dunstable, Mass./East Coast Wizards) sent a shot just wide with Flagg prone three minutes into the third, and Gietl produced her team's third goal at 3:50, taking a giveaway at the left boards and sliding a shot just under Talcott. Gervais pushed a one-timer wide during a 2-on-1 rush at 7:40 before lending the primary assist on O'Brien's goal with 10:54 gone. After Gervais skated through two defenders to gain the zone but have a shot turned away, O'Brien pounded the rebound into the right side of a vacated net. Talcott made a glove save of an Upton shot during a 3-on-2 rush at 15:40 to keep it a one-goal game and, with the netminder pulled, Witwicki had a tying attempt saved with 37 seconds to go. With three seconds left, Wurzer won a faceoff in the right circle and slipped a quick shot toward the cage, which Flagg paddled into the corner just before time expired.