The University of Maine Black Bears Women’s Hockey team faced off against the Merrimack Warriors for the third time this season. Their first matchup of the season was on Jan. 20 at Merrimack and ended in a 3-3 tie. They lost 3-2 in overtime in game one of the homestand at Alfond Arena on Friday and were eventually swept after losing 2-1 on Saturday.
Trying to bounce back from a blown third-period lead on Friday, the Black Bears quickly jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period. Fifth-year forward Ida Kuoppala scored three minutes into the game on a one-timer from the hash marks on the left faceoff circle. Fourth-year forward Rahel Enzler, who now has a team-high 17 assists on the season, aided Kuoppala in scoring the goal.
However, Merrimack tied the game with three minutes left in the first period. First-year forward Maria Lindberg tipped the puck into the goal, which fourth-year defenseman Natalie Nemes assisted with a wrist shot from the blue line. With a lot of traffic in front of the net, Maine’s fourth-year goalie, Jorden Mattison, could not track the puck’s deflection. Mattison would finish the game with 11 saves on 13 shots. The period would end with a score of 1-1.
In the second period, Maine was stonewalled by Merrimack second-year goalie Calli Hogarth. The Black Bears had three power plays in the game, all of which came in the second period. They dominated the Warriors in shots on goal in the period by a tally of 18-2 but had no goals to show for it. Hogarth was the x-factor in the game, as she saved 39 of 40 shots. The two teams would head into the second intermission with the score still knotted at one apiece.
The third period started with a slashing penalty by Maine first-year defenseman Sophia Johnson. The Black Bears killed off the Warriors’ power play, but soon after, Merrimack would take the lead with under 13 minutes left to play.
Lindberg fired a shot on a rush from the right faceoff circle. Maine’s Mattison made the initial pad save, but Lindberg shot the rebound off the back of Mattison’s left skate, and it bounced into the net for her second goal of the game. Even with their goalie pulled for an extra skater, the Black Bears failed to score before time expired and lost the game 2-1.
Maine entered the weekend in 8th place in Hockey East, with 22 points in 20 games played. Merrimack trailed the Black Bears by just two points at 20, with 19 games played. After losing five of six points on the weekend, Maine swapped spots with Merrimack and dropped into ninth place.
After losing their last four games, Maine needs to pick up some momentum by improving their offensive play. The Black Bears are on the road in Boston next week as they play both Boston University and Northeastern University.