The University of Maine women’s hockey team generated plenty of offense, but in the end, could not finish their chances, getting shut out by the University of Connecticut Huskies (UConn) 2-0 on Sunday.
Maine outshot the Huskies 38-21, including a 14-5 advantage in the third period alone.
The game turned into a contest between two of Hockey East’s best goaltenders, Maine fifth-year Meghann Treacy and UConn fourth-year Elaine Chuli.
Treacy made 19 saves on 21 shots, while Chuli kept every puck out of the net, making 38 saves in the win.
“[Chulie] is always excellent,” UConn Head Coach Chris MacKenzie said. “We’re lucky to have her. The amount of work that she has put into her playing career and how she plays, it’s nice to see her get a shutout.”
UConn got goals from fourth-year forward Leah Buress and first-year forward Kayla Mee. Buress scored her goal on the power play, as the Huskies went 1-1 with the man advantage. Maine failed to convert on their only power play opportunity.
Maine dominated the opening minutes of the first period of play, taking six unanswered shots on goal. But, Chuli was up to the task and kept the puck out of the net.
Treacy was tested and beaten a few times in the minutes that followed, but the goalposts and the crossbar bailed her out.
The first shot was taken by UConn second-year forward Theresa Knutson, who took a quick wrist shot off the face off that beat Treacy high glove side. The puck rattled around the top corner and hit the far post, and was initially called a goal.
The play went under review, and the officials determined that the puck never crossed the goal line. The Huskies would hit the crossbar just a few minutes later, but would instead find the back of the net for a power play goal at the 14:54 mark. After a few offsetting penalties, Maine would be called for hitting from behind, giving UConn a 5-on-3 power play. Maine was able to kill off the first of the penalties, but not the second, and Buress found the back of the net on a cross-ice feed to make the score 1-0 UConn.
The second period was another highly contested period, as neither team was able to score. The Black Bears did have the better of the chances, launching 14 shots on goal to UConn’s eight.
“We just weren’t finding the back of the net,” Maine third-year Captain Emilie Brigham said. “We knew what we had to do. We started out a little slow but, we just needed to find the back of the net.”
One shot included a point blank shot from deep in the slot, but Chuli made a sliding save to keep Maine off the board.
“It was a gritty game, it could have gone either way,” MacKenzie said. “It’s always a battle when these two teams play, we were fortunate to come out on top.”
UConn would seal the win with a goal midway through the third period, when an outstanding individual effort by Mee led to a goal.
Mee gathered the puck in the defensive zone, skated her way through the neutral zone and made a quick deke to get by the Maine defense. From there, she took a shot the beat Treacy low on the blocker side to score her first collegiate goal.
“Our defense was pretty good, it’s something we have been working on. They just found holes,” Brigham said.
Maine pulled Treacy for the extra attacker with three minutes left to go in the game, but Chuli and the defense held, and UConn escaped with a 2-0 win.
“I think we played well at times, but I don’t think we came out and played 60 minutes of how we did for maybe 45 minutes of this game. We’re not a team that can take 15 minutes off,” Maine Head Coach Richard Reichenbach said.
With the win, UConn improves to 6-6-2 (3-4-0 WHEA) while Maine falls to 6-9-0 (3-7-0 WHEA).
Maine will be hitting the road next weekend as they take on Robert Morris for a two game series. The Black Bears will return home to the Alfond on Dec. 5 and 6 when they take on the undefeated Boston College Eagles.