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Women’s Hockey drops series opener to No. 10 Robert Morris

The Black Bears women’s hockey team (4-2) split their opening series against the No.9 Quinnipiac Bobcats, then traveled to Troy, N.Y. and swept the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers. Their triumphs proved how well this team can play, and that they can potentially make a push for early season playoff positioning in Hockey East.

Then they faced yet another test over the weekend at Alfond Arena, as they faced off with the No. 10 ranked Robert Morris Colonials (3-1), falling in Friday’s contest 2-1 to kick off homecoming weekend.

Both teams struggled to get any sort of offense going in the first two periods of action. Tight defensive play from both sides limited the scoring opportunities for both teams, and stellar goaltending from Maine’s second-year goaltender Carly Jackson and Robert Morris’s fourth-year netminder Elijah Milne-Price turned away every shot they faced. Something was going to have to give before too long.

By the middle of the third period, something gave, not like when a dam bursts, but more like when a garden hose finally pops after being left outside for the winter, then turned on for the first time in the spring.

With 18:49 to go in the third, Colonials’ fourth-year forward Amanda Pantaleo took a pass from third-year defender Maggie LaGue. Pantaleo would poke the puck right past Jackson into the back of the net, giving Robert Morris the 1-0 lead.

LaGue would play a crucial role in the game winner for the Colonials, finding third-year forward Amber Rennie, who would in turn find redshirt fourth-year forward Brittany Howard for the second goal of the night, putting Robert Morris up 2-0 with 9:10 left in the game.

The Black Bears would not go down without a fight. Fourth-year forward Catherine Tufts ripped a shot past Milne-Price to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 6:21 to go. The goal was the first on the season for Tufts, who was assisted by fourth-year defender Kristin Gilmour and second-year forward Tereza Vanisova.

The scoring output in the third was emblematic of the offensive production in this game. Through the first two periods, Robert Morris outshot Maine 11-9, but Maine would nearly double their shot total in the third period alone, turning the tables on the Colonials by a 7-5 shots on goal margin.

Maine also showed off discipline, committing only three penalties for six minutes in the box. This is not to say Robert Morris wasn’t disciplined as well, going to the box just five times for 10 minutes.

The Black Bears dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 31 of 47 faceoffs on the evening. Give credit to the Colonials’ stifling defense for holding Maine to just the one late goal.

Jackson finished the game with 15 saves on the 17 shots she faced. Milne-Price also finished with 15 saves on 16 shots faced.

These two teams will be back in action on Saturday with puck drop scheduled for 1 p.m.   

Black Bears pull out split with 5-2 win over Colonials

Everything that was lacking in Friday’s game was more than on display Saturday. Some of it was what is desired in a hockey game, some not so much.

The biggest difference between Friday night and Saturday afternoon: the Black Bears came out on top, downing the Colonials 5-2 to wrap up the homecoming weekend series.

First-year goaltender Lauryn Porter got her first start of the season for the Black Bears, and to say she played well would be an understatement. Robert Morris peppered the net all afternoon, firing off 40 shots for the game. Porter was more than up to the task of shutting down the high-powered attack, recording 38 saves for the day, and not allowing a goal until the third.

The scoring started for the Black Bears in the opening period. With 11:35 to go in the period, Robert Morris had a lapse in judgement when they were called for having too many players on the ice during a line change. Maine was able to capitalize when first-year forward Daria Tereshkina found Vanisova in the slot. Vanisova was then able to poke one past the Colonials’ third-year goaltender Lauren Bailey to give the Black Bears a 1-0 lead.

Tereshkina would follow up the assist with her first goal as a Black Bear. Vanisova tried potting her second goal of the game on a pass from fourth-year forward Brooke Stacey, but was turned away. Tereshkina was right there to corral the rebound and sneak one past Bailey for the 2-0 lead.

Maine would add a third unanswered goal with 13:38 to go in the second. Second-year defender Brittany Kucera sent a pass to Tereshkina, who fired off a shot in search of her second goal of the game. Bailey blocked the shot, but Stacey skated up to tuck a shot into the corner of the net. The goal was Stacey’s second of the year, and gave Maine a 3-0 lead that seemed insurmountable.

Robert Morris made things interesting in the first half of the third period. Fourth-year forward Jessica Gazzola took the puck down the ice, weaving through the Black Bear defenders and putting one past Porter to cut the deficit to 3-1 with 15:55 to go.

With 10:53 to go, and Robert Morris shorthanded, the duo of LaGue and Howard struck again. LaGue dished the puck over to Howard, who fired a one-timer past Porter to bring the score to 3-2.

Robert Morris was carrying momentum, but Stacey did exactly what she needed to do to swing it back in Maine’s favor. With 6:34 remaining, Stacey took a pass from Vanisova, putting it past Bailey for her second goal of the game, third on the season, to give the Black Bears a 4-2.

After Bailey was pulled for the extra skater, Vanisova potted the empty netter for her second goal of the game, also her third on the season, to run the score to 5-2 Black Bears, where it would stand at the final horn.

The only category that matters is goals. That being said, Robert Morris outshot Maine 40-23, and dominated in the faceoff circle, 34-24.

Maine will start conference play with a matchup against Boston University on Friday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. from Alfond Arena. Robert Morris will look to rebound from their first loss on the season with a two-game set against Brown University. Puck drop for game one is slated for Friday at 6 p.m. in Providence, R.I.      

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