The University of Maine women’s hockey team kicked off its season this afternoon in an exhibition game against the University of New Brunswick Reds. The team is looking to build on a year that saw them go 12-13-1 inside of the America East conference. After back-to-back years with 15 total wins, the Black Bears could be poised for a big leap this year.
Top goal scorer from a year ago, third-year Alyssa Wruble, is returning to the team this year and will look to take an even more prominent role as one of the leaders on the team. Third-year forward, Mira Seregély, who led the team in points last season with 23, will also be at the forefront of the attack. The two returning netminders for the Black Bears are fourth-year Anna Larose and Jorden Mattison. They saw nearly equal time last year, with Mattison appearing in 13 games and Larose in 12. They’ll welcome in first-year transfer from St. Cloud State, Julia Bachetti, who will fill out the goalie room.
The time has come, and the puck officially drops at Alfond Arena to kick off the season. The Black Bears dominated the first six minutes of the game, outshooting the Reds 9-1, but the first penalty of the game went to second-year defenseman Cora Webber when she committed a tripping penalty at the 6:41 mark of the first period.
The Black Bears killed the penalty and continued to tilt the ice in their favor. The Black Bears’ first golden opportunity came halfway through the first period when UNB first-year forward Lauren Toner sent the Black Bears to the power play with a hooking penalty. Maine didn’t take long to cash in, scoring 49 seconds into the power play when fourth-year center Elise Morphy buried a goal-line feed from Seregély.
Sixth-year goaltender for the Reds, Kendra Woodland, kept her team in the game, stopping 16/17 first-period shots. Mattison steered away the only three shots she saw, and the Black Bears happily took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The second period began much like the way the first period did. Maine dominated the first seven minutes of the period, peppering Woodland, looking to build on its lead. They were unable to do so and once again committed the first penalty of the period when third-year defenseman Adriana van de Leest went to the box for hooking. The Reds were able to get a couple of looks at tying the game but were ultimately shut down by Mattison.
The second half of the UNB power play was played on their heels when Maine had a 2-1 on the break but could not cash in on the shorthanded opportunity. The game continued to be played in the Reds’ end, with the Black Bears looking crisp in the offensive zone, moving the puck and keeping fresh legs on the ice.
After a long shift and some fatigued Reds defenders, Seregély found the back of the net after assists from first-year forward Sam Morrison and third-year defenseman Jamie Grinder to give the Black Bears a 2-0 lead at the 16:19 mark of the second period. The two teams would trade chances to wind down the second period before heading to intermission at a 2-0 game. The Black Bears once again dominated the period and outshot the Reds 35-11 through the first two periods.
The third period started with a goalie change for the Black Bears. The St. Cloud State transfer Bachetti started the third period, seeing her first collegiate action after starter Mattison stopped all 11 shots she faced. Maine continued its impressive offensive showing throughout the first half of the third period. At the 6:30 mark of the period, van de Leest and Wruble connected with first-year forward Raegan Wurm for her first collegiate goal, giving Maine a 3-0 lead.
The game started to get physical on both sides with multiple open ice hits, and just minutes later, van de Leest and third-year forward Lauren Carter of the Reds went to the box for separate illegal hits within thirty seconds of each other. The Black Bears would kill off the final few minutes of the game, and the final buzzer sounded, securing a Black Bear win. Bachetti stopped all nine shots she faced in the third period, notching a combined shutout along with Mattison. Maine will travel down to Connecticut next Friday to take on Quinnipiac in a pair of games next weekend. The Black Bears begin conference play at home on Oct. 13 against their rivals, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.