Women’s ice hockey is going through a tough stretch, admitted head coach John Lauziere after their game against Holy Cross last Friday. Their overall record stands at 4-13-1, but their last seven matches have gone 0-6-1, which made Friday’s game even more disheartening.

What wasn’t disheartening, however, was the effort put forth by the Huskies. Despite a disadvantage in numbers-skating only 15 women to Holy Cross’s 22-our players proved that despite their losses, they are able to contend with the top teams in their division.

Their heart and effort were on full display Friday night as they skated to a 1-0 overtime loss to the Crusaders, who are now 10-7-1.

The game started with feverish action at both ends. USM looked sharp at the start, creating good transitions and moving the puck up the ice well. Midway through the first period, things began to pull in favor of Holy Cross.

With a relentless fore-checking assault that created numerous turnovers in the Huskies’ defensive zone, the Crusaders began peppering junior goalie Emily Barrett (Westport, MA) with shots, creating the busiest period of the night for Barrett, who made an outstanding 27 saves in the game (11 in the first period alone).

“She’s our number one right now,” said Lauziere of Barrett. “She has stepped it up in the last 5 or 6 games and she bailed us out tonight as well.”

The Huskies remained unscathed in the first, with the score 0-0 at the break.

The offense started to get things rolling the second period, out-shooting Holy Cross 6-5, but most of the opportunities were thwarted easily by Crusader goalie Monique Gallant, who finished the night with 12 saves.

Most of the play was controlled by the Holy Cross forwards in the neutral zone, as USM had difficulty trying to break free of the defensive front to create good scoring opportunities.

“We had to do too much work in the defensive zone tonight,” said Lauziere. “They’ve got some very fast players and they wore our forwards down in our own defensive zone.”

The Huskies’ defense, however, held the Crusaders at bay once again in the second period, led by the strong play of senior captain Katie Quartuccio (Poughkeepsie, NY) and superb performances by junior Regina Wilson (Shrewsbury, MA) and freshman Mary Vaughn (Brunswick, ME).

In the third, Holy Cross set the tone right away. They came out on fire, dominating the play in the Huskies’ defensive zone and out-shooting them 10-1.

But behind Barrett’s goalie pads there lay a glimmer of hope.

Barrett was spectacular again, making countless point-blank saves, as well as a beautiful kick save in the last 30 seconds of the third period, salvaging a chance for the Huskies to get at least one point for a tie in the contest, if not the two that come with a win.

The overtime period started with lots of action at both ends of the ice. After a tight scramble in front of Barrett, sophomore Kathryn Kelley of Holy Cross shot into a gorge of people, the puck dropped free out of Barrett’s sight, and Crusader freshman Christina D’Ambrogio slammed home the lone goal of the game.

“It’s definitely tough,” said Lauziere. “I wanted to get at least a point out of this game. We have an even bigger game tomorrow, right now we just need to get some rest, see how we feel in the morning.”

“We’ve played our hearts out this season; we’ve worked really hard but we don’t seem to be getting the bounces that matter,” said junior captain Megan Irving.

When asked about how they’ll keep morale up in the locker room, Quartuccio was optimistic: “We need to get some rest, think positively, try to fix things that we did wrong and get past this one.”

See the Huskies at home this weekend as they take on Plymouth State (Friday at 4 p.m.) and Castleton (Saturday at 1 p.m.).

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