By: Cullen McIntyre, Sports Editor
Southern Maine Women’s Ice Hockey won a tense 2-1 game in triple overtime over the University of Massachusetts Boston in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Quarterfinals. Saturday afternoon’s affair took over three hours as the Huskies came back from a 1-0 deficit to win on a goal from freshman Maddy Young (biology) 6:05 into the third period of overtime. The quarterfinal victory is the first time the Huskies have made it past the first round of the NEHC playoffs.
Going into the game the Huskies had swept the Beacons in both regular season matches, winning 4-2 on November 15 and 3-2 on January 31. Southern Maine had home ice advantage, as they placed fourth in the conference matching up against fifth placed UMass Boston.
UMass Boston had the first goal 10 minutes into the game. Katie Leffler of the Beacons put the puck past senior Whitney Padgett (Exercise Science) in goal for an early lead. The period would end with Boston leading 1-0, though the Huskies outshot them 14-5.
The game stayed even throughout the second period, as both teams traded shots on net but could not put it past Padgett or Caty Flagg of the Beacons. The goalies each kept their teams in the game throughout the match, both facing over 40 shots on goal in the game.
Senior Katie Nolan (General Management) scored the equalizer 2:39 into the third period. The unassisted shot on goal was placed perfectly to the top right corner keeping the Huskies’ playoff hopes alive. The game stayed level heading into overtime.
Both teams could not find a score through the first two periods of overtime, burning power-play after power-play as each goalie denied countless shots on net. The Huskies killed two crucial power-plays in the second period of overtime as Nolan was given two minutes for tripping and
sophomore Chelsea Skluzacek was given two minutes for cross-checking.
The goal finally came in the third period of overtime, as Young’s shot found the skate of a Beacon defender that put the puck through the legs of Flagg. Sophomore Julianne Nelson (Health Sciences) earned the assist for the game winner as the Huskies won their first playoff game of the season.
Padgett finished the game with 50 total saves facing 51 shots on goal in 106:05 minutes between the sticks. Flagg earned 43 saves facing 45 shots in the game. Neither team converted on a power-play, as the Huskies went 0-4 and the Beacons went 0-3.
Southern Maine will host sixth placed Suffolk University following their 2-0 upset victory over second placed Johnson & Wales University Saturday afternoon. The Huskies split the season series against Suffolk, losing the first game 3-2 on December 13 and winning the second 5-2 on February 1. A Huskies win would put them in the NEHC Championships for the first time.
The puck drops Saturday, February 29 at 4:00 pm at the USM Ice Arena in Gorham.