UMass women’s hockey dominates on the road against URI

The Minutewomen climb the standings in key wins to stay in the playoff picture

Jonny+Depin%2F+Daily+Collegian

Jonny Depin/ Daily Collegian

By Johnny Depin, David DuBois, and Shanti Furtado

The Massachusetts women’s hockey team swept the University of Rhode Island in decisive fashion this weekend at the Brad Boss Arena. After coming out 1-3 during their last 4 games, the Minutewomen rallied back after a week off.

No. 11 UMass came out hot in the first game of the series on Friday, scoring four of their ultimate eight goals within the first 30 minutes on the ice. A mere 12 seconds into the first period, forward Katerina Nikolopoulos set the tempo for the remainder of the game. Off a pass from Katherine Paradis, Nikolopoulos found the back of the net, Paradis notching her fifth assist, and Nikolopoulos her fifth goal of the season.

Just 27 seconds later, No. 19 URI sounded back, Serena Batacchi putting the Rams on the board. However, this cat and mouse style of play quickly dissipated. UMass’ Danielle Craig scored on the breakaway 1:42 into the first, propelling two other Minutewomen, Brianna O’Neill and Captain Holly Russell to score before the period’s end.

The penalty kill for the Minutewomen was strong throughout the evening, all four penalties unanswered by URI– a key improvement for UMass.

Nikolopoulos kept her momentum going, also marking the first goal of the next period for UMass on a power play that sent URI’s, Lindsey Brady into the box on an interference call. The score 5-1 with seven seconds remaining in the second, UMass’ Regan Paterson fired past URI’s goaltender to add another for the Minutewomen.

During the changeover, given the Minutewomen’s dominance, URI’s Coach Ray Boudiette made a goaltender change, subbing in Janelle Kelleher for Freshman Amelia Lambert for her third career game.

Still, UMass continued its offensive high, tallying two more goals in the third period. Patterson added her second goal of the game 13:24 into the period, assisted by Craig and O’Neill. Less than two minutes later, Nikki Herz rattled one home off of a pass from Olivia Perenick to make the score 8-1, one that would hold until the end of the game.

Saturday’s game didn’t bring the same big numbers to the scoreboard, the two teams engaged in more of a puck battle throughout. Nonetheless, the dominance in offensive production still was there for the Minutewomen, outshooting URI 36-14 throughout 60 minutes of play.

The Minutewomen kept the intensity against the Rams with much of the play in the offensive zone during the first period. At 5:27 of the first UMass captain Holly Russell conceded a goalie interference penalty, leading the Minutewomen to penalty kill. The Minutewomen killed the penalty and the play remained lopsided in UMass’s favor. Facing 14 shots in the first period URI’s Kelleher was pivotal in keeping the Minutewomen off the board and keeping play at 0-0 heading into the second period.

11:45 into the second period Logan Burns of the Rams took a roughing penalty, and UMass looked to break the ice and score first. The Minutewomen have been looking to improve on their powerplay but came up empty handed with a few nifty saves from Kelleher. With 3:27 left in the second Katerina Nikolopoulos netted her third of the weekend unassisted to put UMass up 1-0. The goal gave Nikolopoulos her 13th point in 10 games, marking a standout season for the Senior.

In the third, the Minutewomen padded their lead off of a goal from Brianna O’Neill, which was assisted by Danielle Craig. This score spanned the rest of the game, the Minutewomen winning 2-0.

Despite the loss, Kelleher was impressive in net, stopping 34 of 36 shots that came her way. Her .944 save percentage was not enough, though, as UMass’ goaltending continued to shine with Mary Honan blocking all 14 shots on goal from the Rams, collecting her first shutout of the season.

The Minutewomen will face the Rams to conclude their regular season in a pair of series during the month of February. With the teams so close in the standings presently, there are increased stakes in an already historically tense rivalry between the two schools.

Now on a three week void in games due to the looming winter break, UMass looks ahead to their next matchups on the west coast against Arizona State and Grand Canyon Universities on January 7th and 8th. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. MST and 12:00 p.m. MST.

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed  on Twitter @jdepin101.

David DuBois can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @daviddubois23.

Shanti Furtado can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @shantifurtado.