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Minutewomen defeat Buffalo, Penn State over weekend

An offensive surge of energy led the Massachusetts women’s club hockey team to back-to-back victories over Buffalo University this past weekend of play. The two wins moved the Minutewomen past Pennsylvania State into second place for the Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League.

UMass (8-11) came out strong early Saturday night, striking first 30 seconds into the first period. Stefani McGrath and Stephanie Schlosky contributed to Heather Paonessa’s goal past the Lady Buffaloes’ netminder A.J. Sliwinski to give the Minutewomen an early lead.

Paige Hackett followed Paonessa’s lead at the 18 minute, 45 second mark to score again for UMass. Brittany Resendes wrapped up scoring in the first period by taking advantage of a 5-on-4 power play.

“We started out strong and scored two goals in the first minute and a half,” UMass coach Chris Cobb said. “It was a combination of everyone playing a lot of offense.”

A few injuries to the team, including a dislocated shoulder, caused Cobb to make changes to his starting lines. A decision to move a defender to the offensive line proved to be the spark UMass’ offense needed.

The second period was played similarly by both sides, with the Minutewomen offense controlling the pace of the game. Captain Catherine O’Brien put the puck past Buffalo’s defense at the 17:25 mark, followed by a Schlosky goal four minutes later.

Co-captain Samantha Mack ended UMass’ offensive attack at the 16:37 mark in the third period, scoring an unassisted goal to give it the 6-0 victory.

The Minutewomen outshot the Lady Buffaloes, 46-8, showing their dominance over the puck.

Simply put, “We really controlled the puck offensively,” Cobb said.

The victory also served as the Minutewomen’s third shutout of the season. Kelsey Magrane and Gabrielle Busa saved four shots each to contribute to the shutout.

Sunday’s game started out slow for the UMass offense as Buffalo scored first with 3:22 remaining in the first period. Chelsea Eppolito took an assist from Tiffany Vinette and scored the lone goal of the game for the Lady Buffaloes (4-6).

“For the first 30 minutes of the game they outscored us, but we had more talent,” Cobb said.

This proved to be true as the Minutewomen came alive in the second period. After a penalty was called on Buffalo for covering the puck in the crease, Brittany Resendes took advantage of the power play and opened up scoring for UMass.

O’Brien scored her second goal of the weekend at the 9:22 mark, assisted by Besty Riegel. Fellow captain Hayley Kuhn stepped up with four seconds remaining in the second period to give UMass the 3-1 advantage going into the third period.

Cobb gives credit to O’Brien, who has scored a goal in the last three games.

“She’s a kid who just works hard and through her working hard she gets some points,” Cobb said. “Our offense is pretty spread out and she has definitely stepped up.”

Two additional goals were scored in the third, first by Mack at the 8:45 mark. Kuhn followed with her second goal of the afternoon with six minutes remaining of play, sweeping the Lady Buffaloes with a final 5-1 victory.

UMass outshot its opponent again, 51-5. Katie Avery took over the net for the majority of the game, stopping four shots.

The Minutewomen are set to face Rhode Island (13-6-3) Friday night and Saturday morning. This is the second series the two rivals will play this season; the previous matchup resulting in a win and a loss for UMass.

The rivalry is furthered by ECWHL standings, where the Rams are in first place with 29 points, followed by the Minutewomen with 16 points.

Saturday’s game also has significance to UMass, where its four seniors, Samantha Mack, Kyle Mack, Hayley Kuhn and Angela Rufo will be honored for senior day.

Geena Lombardi can be reached at glombard@student.umass.edu.

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