On Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1, the University of Maine women’s hockey team traveled to Vermont to take on the University of Vermont Catamounts.
Kicking things off in game one, both teams came out firing. The Catamounts sent three shots at UMaine’s goal, one went wide, one was blocked and the third hit the crossbar. The Catamounts’ first-year defender Ellice Murphy accrued a penalty for checking three minutes into the game, sending the Black Bears to the power play. Just after the penalty, UMaine’s first goal of the game was scored by third-year forward Tereza Vanisova, marking her 13th goal of the season and putting Maine ahead 1-0.
Unable to capitalize on a power play following a tripping penalty against fourth-year forward Lydia Murray, the Catamounts continued to fight against a strong Maine defense. Fourth-year defender Taylor Flaherty finally found her gap, sneaking a shot past Maine’s third-year goalie Carly Jackson.
Attempting to push the advantage following their score, Vermont’s offensive efforts came out in full force, taking eight shots on goal compared to Maine’s four for the remainder of the period. Forced on the defensive for the majority of the period, the Black Bears buckled down, holding off all of the Catamounts attacks, but were unable to succeed offensively themselves.
Vermont came back onto the ice with their same ferocity as before, firing seven shots at UMaine’s goal in just as many minutes. Maine’s defense held strong, keeping the score 1-1. Feeling a change of pace, third-year defender Ebba Strandberg fired a one timer off of the feed from second-year forward Michelle Weis, which snuck past Vermont’s fourth-year goalie Melissa Black. Unable to score on four shots each, both teams ran out the remainder of the period with a score of 2-1.
Opening the third period, Maine skated onto the ice with drive, attacking Vermont’s net with four shots in the first five minutes of play. Vermont managed to turn the tide shortly afterward, assisted by a power play off of a checking penalty against first-year defender Ida Press. Under a minute later, Vanisova found herself in the penalty box as well for checking, giving the Catamounts a five-on-three advantage. The Black Bears tightened up their defensive efforts, and were able to thwart any offensive attempts made by the Catamounts until both penalties eventually expired.
Strong defense, penalties and faceoffs told the tale for the remainder of the period. With under two minutes left in the game, Vermont pulled Black off the ice and sent six attackers at the Black Bears’ net. Jackson, with the help of strong Maine defensive lines, held off the charge and the Black Bears skated off with the victory.
“There have been some games this year when I thought we beat ourselves and this wasn’t one of them,” UVM coach Jim Plumer said, “We played the way we wanted to and created abundant chances, but this was another game where we, maddeningly, just didn’t finish. Credit to Maine, they made one more play than we did, but I would love to see this offense play up to its capability.”
With the previous night’s defeat still lingering in the air, Vermont stormed onto the ice Saturday, firing the first shot on goal just seconds after the puck had dropped. Maine responded swiftly, as second-year defender Taylor Leech sent back to back shots at Black, but both were deflected. Despite the intense offensive exchanges, both defenses held strong, until second-year forward Olivia Kilberg managed to sneak the puck past Jackson right as the Catamounts’ power play had expired.
Maine, building a trend for quick responses, tied the score at one as fourth-year defender Alyson Matteau scored the first goal for UMaine after taking off down the ice. Using the quick change in momentum, Maine went on the offensive, however none of their five shots found their mark against the Catamounts’ defensive efforts.
In the second period, the Catamounts’ offense ignited, firing 16 shots on the Black Bears net within the first seven minutes of play. The last shot of the barrage found its mark, as fourth-year forward Saana Valkama poked the puck into Maine’s net, giving Vermont the 2-1 lead.
Maine’s second-year defender Anna Zikova, taking the feed from fourth-year forward Cailey Hutchison, tied the score at two-all just 30 seconds later.
Both teams continued to exchange offensive bombardments, until Vermont’s first-year defender Maude Poulin-Labelle received the puck from Valkama and cranked a slapshot that flew past Jackson, giving the Catamounts the 3-2 advantage. The Black Bears attempted to retaliate with six shots and the Catamounts remained on the offensive until the end of the period. But neither team scored, leaving the score at 3-2.
For the third period, although the Black Bears played more aggressively, neither team scored. They went on a rampage against the Catamounts, firing 18 shots on goal. The Catamounts only managed five shots, but won the vast majority of faceoffs. Despite exchanging multiple penalties, neither team was able to capitalize on their respective power plays and Vermont left the ice the victor.
Maine will stay on the road for their next series, traveling to Massachusetts to go head-to-head with Harvard University on Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8.