The University of Maine women’s hockey team was stymied on senior weekend, losing back-to-back games to Northeastern University.
Despite a strong performance from the Black Bears throughout the first 40 minutes, Northeastern sophomore forward Kendall Coyne and junior forward Brittany Esposito each found the back of the net twice to pace the Huskies to a 5-2 victory over the University of Maine Saturday afternoon at Alfond Arena.
UMaine held a 31-23 shot advantage on Saturday but could not suppress the Northeastern offense, who struck two goals in the opening moments of the third period before cementing the win with their fifth goal of the contest 4 minutes later.
“I gave them an earful after the first period,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said. “I thought we came out slow. [Maine] was playing extremely hard. They outworked us all over the ice. We were lucky we weren’t down three or four to one in the first [period].
“[The] third period has been our best period this year,” he continued. “I liked the way we played in the third. I thought we came out real slow but we got better as the game went on.”
The Huskies followed up a victory over No. 3 Boston University, beating No. 2 Boston College on Tuesday for their second straight Beanpot tournament crown — 16th win overall. In light of that, UMaine head coach Maria Lewis said she thought Saturday’s contest was one of the better games her squad had put together this season, regardless of the final result.
“Against a top opponent that just came off of two wins against BC and BU, it was probably one of our more complete games,” Lewis said. “We still have those dips that teams capitalize on when we do it and that’s still what we need to get better at and learn from and mature, but overall I think we had a chance tonight. We had some great looks and some great opportunities. We had a chance.”
Coyne broke the scoreless tie with just under 10 minutes gone in the opening period on a broken play in front of the Black Bear crease. The sophomore was able to put home a backhand with her back to the net as she fell to the ice to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead. Junior forwards Katie MacSorley – the sister of UMaine freshman defender Kelsey MacSorley – and Claire Santostefano were credited with assists on Coyne’s first score of the night.
The Black Bears would equalize 6 minutes later, however, capitalizing on their puck possession advantage.
The tying goal came on another scrum in front that was set up by a centering pass from UMaine senior forward Brittany Dougherty. Junior forward Kayla Kaluzny put home her second goal of the season after Northeastern sophomore goaltender Chloe Desjardins had trouble locating the puck. Sophomore forward Jennifer More also earned an assist on the tally that evened the score at one apiece.
Desjardins would finish with 29 saves on 31 shots in the win for the Huskies.
Dougherty and Kaluzny connected again to put the Black Bears ahead with less than a minute remaining before intermission. The senior found the puck on her stick in the Northeastern zone and blew by a defender before dangling the puck passed Desjardins for her team-leading 12th goal of the year.
The play tightened up in the second period. UMaine enjoyed the better of the even-strength play and looked to get a boost after killing off a pressure-filled Huskies power play in the middle of the frame, but it could not prevent Esposito from tying the score at two with her first goal of the game 13 minutes in.
The junior’s initial attempt was blocked by traffic, but she stayed with it. She recovered her shot behind the net and circled the UMaine zone before driving to the slot to fire a wrister on UMaine senior goaltender Kylie Smith. Esposito was assisted by junior defender Maggie DiMasi and junior forward Kelly Wallace on the tally, making it 2-2 heading into the final 20 minutes of play.
The first of Northeastern’s three unanswered third period goals came just 2 minutes in on a deflection in front. Esposito’s second goal was assisted by freshman forward Paige Savage and freshman defender Tori Hickel.
The second came just 20 seconds later after a timely rush by the Huskies caught UMaine on the wrong end of a two-on-one opportunity. MacSorley kept the puck on her stick and beat Smith low on the glove side for the unassisted score that put Northeastern up 4-2 with a little over 17 minutes remaining.
“It’s tough,” Lewis said about Northeastern’s two quick strikes. “It’s heartbreaking, really. But that’s hockey, and these young players need to learn to get through that.”
The Huskies capped the scoring 4 minutes later off of a centering pass from behind the net by senior forward Rachel Llanes. Coyne met the puck in front and put home her second goal of the game to bring the score to 5-2. Senior forward Casey Pickett also earned an assist on Coyne’s league-leading 31st goal of the season.
“She’s been unbelievable,” Flint said of his star sophomore’s play this season. “Every time she’s on the ice something exciting can happen. We rely on her a lot, sometimes I think a little bit too much, but she always answers for us and she’s one of the top players in the country, and it’s exciting to coach her and to watch her play.”
Smith was replaced by fellow senior goaltender Brittany Ott after Coyne’s goal with 12:56 remaining in the contest. Smith finished with 14 saves on 19 shots in the loss while Ott stopped all four shots she faced in relief for the Black Bears.
Huskies pummel Black Bears on Senior Day
Coyne netted two goals for Northeastern University to become the 22nd 100-point scorer in program history as she paced the No. 10 Huskies to a 7-2 win over the Black Bears on Senior Day in Alfond Arena Sunday afternoon.
UMaine honored its four seniors after the game for their contributions to the women’s hockey program over the last four years. Dougherty, Tinkler, Ott and Smith shared smiles and hugs with relatives and teammates after the game, despite the tough loss.
“It’s sad that it was my last home game,” Dougherty said, “but we still have more games to come, so I just have to play my heart out there leave it all on the ice.”
The Black Bears — 5-22-3 on the season, 2-15-2 in Hockey East — are now locked in to the seventh playoff seed and will play either Boston College or Boston University in the first round of the Hockey East tournament following this weekend’s sweep at the hands of the Huskies.
“We didn’t come out with the same gusto we did [in game one against Northeastern, a 5-2 loss],” Lewis said. “You can’t do that against a good team. You can’t do that against any team. We have to make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves. We came out and panicked a little bit, and it hurt us.
“[Northeastern] played better [than they did on Saturday],” she continued. “They came out and played much better but at the same time we didn’t bring what we brought in the beginning of yesterday’s game.”
The Huskies — 18-10-2 overall, 10-7-1 in conference — enjoyed a 40-19 shot advantage on Sunday on their way to completing the weekend sweep following their Beanpot championship earlier in the week. Northeastern now moves into third place in the Hockey East standings with the sweep.
Flint liked what he saw out his team in the first period following their sluggish start in game one the day before. The Huskies dominated the puck possession early on and used that to jump out to 2-0 lead in the opening frame.
“I liked our energy in the first period,” he said. “We set the tempo for the game, and when we’re successful, that’s what we’re doing. We were much better with our systems today: We established our forecheck, we stayed within what we were trying to do and it paid off for us.”
Northeastern junior defender Sonia St. Martin began the scoring with just over 8 minutes gone in the period off a centering pass by Llanes. St. Martin wristed a shot from the slot that beat Ott to give the Huskies the first lead of the game. Hickel also earned an assist on St. Martin’s first tally of the season.
The lead would be stretched to two 3 minutes later, this time on a net drive by sophomore defender Colleen Murphy to give Northeastern the 2-0 advantage. Wallace was credited with an assist on Murphy’s third goal of the campaign.
Coyne extended her point streak to 10 games with her first goal of the contest a minute into the second period on a breakaway chance to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead. Savage was credited with an assist on the play.
A UMaine penalty on junior defender Kelly McDonald 7 minutes later gave Northeastern another power-play chance that did not go to waste.
Llanes tapped home a rebound after Ott failed to corral the rebound after making the initial save to extend the deficit to four. Llanes’ 11th goal of the year came off assists by Murphy and Pickett.
The Black Bears managed to end Desjardins’ shutout bid with two goals in the third period despite being down 4-0 heading into the final frame, but could not keep the Huskies from finding the twine three times in the last 20 minutes to cap the 7-2 victory.
“We don’t ever want to be a team that’s known for giving up, no matter how bad it gets,” Lewis said. “It was good to get those two goals in the third. They were two pretty good goals as well so that’s definitely really important.”
Coyne made it 5-0 on her second goal of the night – and fourth of the weekend – with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation to become just the third player in Northeastern women’s hockey history to reach the 100-point milestone in less than two seasons.
The Black Bears responded 20 seconds later on a rebound goal by freshman forward Rachel Bellio after Desjardins failed to control a shot from the point by McDonald. Tinkler also earned a helper on Bellio’s second career goal that cut the deficit to four.
Wallace put the Huskies back up by five, with a goal of her own less than a minute later off a backhanded attempt from the slot. Hickel earned her second assist of the game on Wallace’s 11th goal of the season that brought the score to 6-1.
UMaine answered on the power play with just over 5 minutes remaining on a bouncing puck that took Desjardins out of position. Freshman forward Abbey Cook made her way to the front of the net and finished off the play to make it 6-2. Junior forward Missy Denk and sophomore defender Brittney Huneke earned assists on Cook’s second goal of the season.
Desjardins finished with 17 saves on Sunday on the way to her 16th win this season and Ott stopped 33 of the 40 shots she faced in the loss for UMaine.
“The one thing about Maine is they never give up,” Flint said after the game. “They’ll always keep coming at you, and it showed. When we went up 5-0 they came back and made it 5-1. We made it 6-1, they make it 6-2, so they’ll keep coming at you. I told the girls they need to learn to put the nail in the coffin and put teams away. That’s what good teams do.”
Esposito netted her third tally of the weekend to finish off the scoring. Santostefano earned the assist on Esposito’s 10th goal of the season that made it 7-2.
The Black Bears take to the road as the faceoff against archrival UNH in a two game set Feb. 23-24 for their final regular season matchups of the season. Puck drop for both contests is scheduled for 2 p.m.