This weekend, for the second time this season, the University of Maine women’s ice hockey team traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts, and for the second time they split the series with the Crusaders of Holy Cross.
The first time the Black Bears traveled to Holy Cross they had two tight games, and this time was no different. On Friday night, Holy Cross mustered only 24 shots and let up 41. However, Holy Cross’s third-year goalie Jada Brenon had an outstanding game, stopping 40 of 41 shots, marking a rare occasion where UMaine’s fourth-year goalie Loryn Porter was outplayed.
The first goal was not scored until the second period. The Black Bears were able to put the first mark on the scoresheet just minutes into the second, with an unexpected exceptional play by fourth-year defender Daria Tereshkina. This was her first goal of the season and her first since February of 2019. The Black Bears seemingly had full control of the game, but two moments that saw a lack of discipline within a short period of time would cost them.
The Black Bears only took two penalties during the entirety of Friday night’s game –– sadly, they came just over a minute apart from each other. Holy Cross sensed some blood in the water and pounced on the opportunity to challenge UMaine. The Black Bears, who are typically solid on the PK, were stunned when Holy Cross scored during both the 5 on 3, and then the 5 on 4 within 54 seconds of each other. The first score was the product of Holy Cross’s second-year forward Mary Edmonds, and the second came from fourth-year defender Allison Attea.
This surge, along with outstanding goaltending from fourth-year Jada Brenon, was enough for Holy Cross to take the first game of the weekend series on Friday. However, the Black Bears rebounded to have the final laugh on Saturday.
Even though Saturday evening’s result will go down in the books as a draw, UMaine was able to pick up a win in the shootout after both teams remained tied after overtime. The only two goals scored in the game came within the last 10 minutes of the first period. Holy Cross first-year forward Millie Sirum scored the first goal of the game on the powerplay with just under seven minutes left in the first period. UMaine responded shortly after.
The Black Bears’ lone goal of the game came from first-year defender Olivia King, who made a slick move to open up space for herself and then shot top shelf to beat Brenon, which was not an easy task this weekend. This was King’s first D1 collegiate goal of her career, and it proved to be crucial since UMaine’s only other goal of the night occurred in the post-overtime shootout.
After regulation and overtime, UMaine and Holy Cross remained tied 1-1, offering the Black Bears an opportunity to participate in the first shootout of the season. Throughout the season, UMaine’s Porter has performed exceptionally and been invaluable to the team, and this week was no different. Porter came up huge for UMaine in this game and held her ground in the shootout. Although Holy Cross struck first in the shootout, Porter hung in there and refused to allow any more goals. Second-year forward Ida Kuoppala was crucial to the Black Bears’ success on Saturday; with the team down by 1, with one shooter left, it was do-or-die for Kuoppala. She had to score as the shootout continued, with the knowledge that if she missed, Holy Cross would win. Kuoppala’s patience and composure during the shootout were those of an elite scorer, and she was able to beat Brenon between the legs to continue the shootout.
The real hero of Saturday night is a fairly new face in Orono, with first-year defender Elise Morphy playing a part in UMaine’s success. In the extra rounds of the shootout, Morphy was given an opportunity not a lot of first-year defenders have; a chance to win a game in the shootout. Morphy on her shootout attempt made a great fake to the glove side, fooling Brenon and sliding it past her low stick side. With this well-executed move, Morphy sealed the win for UMaine.
The UMaine women’s team picked up a much needed shootout win that moved their record to 7-8-2, and they currently sit in fifth place in the Hockey East standings. This was the Black Bears’ last regular season game, now, they await moving to the playoffs. However, being in the top six means that UMaine will not have to play in the first round. Once the two remaining spots are filled to make up the eight teams of the second round, UMaine will find out their opponent for their first playoff game. The Black Bears’ first playoff game is scheduled to take place on Sunday, Feb. 28. Their opponent, rink and time of the game is yet to be determined.