Witwicki Scores, Talcott Blanks Division I Sacred Heart, 1-0, Behind 53 Saves

Witwicki Scores, Talcott Blanks Division I Sacred Heart, 1-0, Behind 53 Saves

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. – Senior Jillian Witwicki (Danvers, Mass./Pingree School) scored at 6:14 in the third period and junior Nicole Talcott (Colchester, Vt./Rice Memorial Prep) made a career-high 53 saves to lift the Saint Michael's College women's ice hockey team past Division I Sacred Heart University, 1-0, on Friday evening at Cairns Arena. The Purple Knights improved to 3-12, while the Pioneers are now 16-5. The Purple and Gold earned its first home victory in program history with Sacred Heart and registered its fourth victory overall.

Witwicki tallied her third goal of the season as senior Katherine O'Brien (East Sandwich, Mass./Tilton School) and first-year Krista Ferrari (Dunstable, Mass./East Coast Wizards) pitched in the assists. Witwicki moved into a tie for 10th in program history with 18 career goals, matching Michelle Miaskiewicz '06 and Macey Thomas '14. Talcott earned her first career shutout, while Witwicki and sophomore Arianna Boscia (Cranston, R.I./La Salle Academy) blocked four shots each. Witwicki went 10-for-20 at the faceoff dot.

Sacred Heart entered the game leading all of Division I women's ice hockey in scoring average (4.9) while being tied for fifth across NCAA Division I, II and III women's ice hockey in victories. Senior Devan Kane had 15 saves in 57:56 of play for the Pioneers. Senior Taylor Moreland went 16-for-26 in faceoffs and junior Haley Payne went 4-for-6. The visitors had won 16 of their last 18 games, with their only setbacks to Division I counterparts Brown University and the College of the Holy Cross. Saint Michael's is now 2-2 in its last four games with Sacred Heart, as well as 2-4-2 since 2014, holding a 1-0-1 edge in postseason contests during that time.

During the first period the Pioneers outshot the Purple Knights 14-3 and got no attempts by Talcott. Moreland had a quick breakaway at 3:32 to have Talcott deny the try. After junior Madison Nichols (Gilford, N.H./Tilton School) received a short pass from first-year Megan Doherty (Stoughton, Mass./Walpole Express), Nichols hit a shot wide right from out front at 5:58. During a Saint Michael's power-play opportunity, Boscia's slap shot from the right point at 11:41 was stopped by Kane. Around the 13-minute mark, Talcott repudiated three straight shots. Junior Lilly Cleary's shot rebounded off of Talcott for junior Brooke McGreen and, after her first shot in the crease was denied, Talcott extended her arm and stick to deny McGreen's second bid at 13:35. Soon after at 14:20, sophomore Jayne Lewis nailed a one-timer near the left post with Talcott making a pad save as she stuck her foot out to redirect the shot.

Ferrari tipped Witwicki's right-circle shot out front at 3:16 in the second stanza with her bid being saved. Two point-blank shots from the Pioneers were denied by Talcott around 8:40 before O'Brien redirected another Saint Michael's shot to have it saved at 9:57. Talcott made a left-pad save at 19:20 as Lewis made the attempt from the left circle.

Within a 5:15 span early on in the third period, two Pioneer players hit the crossbar. At 6:14 Sacred Heart had the puck behind its net before Ferrari knocked it away and passed it to O'Brien. O'Brien then sent a quick pass to Witwicki in the slot, where Witwicki roofed the shot over Kane's right shoulder to put Saint Michael's ahead 1-0. Two back-to-back attempts right out front were denied by Talcott at 8:27. During the final 2:04 of play, the Pioneers played 6-on-5 with an empty net but were not able to get any shots on goal, as Witwicki blocked two and Ferrari one.

The Purple Knights finish the two-game weekend series against Sacred Heart on Saturday at 1 p.m.