UMass women’s hockey split weekend series with Rhode Island

Minutewomen scored eight goals over the weekend

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Shanti Furtado / Daily Collegian

By Shanti Furtado and Eli Weisberger, Collegian Staff

FRIDAY:

The Massachusetts women’s hockey team won 7-2 against the Rhode Island on Friday. This result marked the Minutewomen’s seventh consecutive win.

The Mullins Practice Arena has proven to be a tough place for away teams to come out of victorious and Friday proved to be no different for the No. 19 Rams (7-11) who came to Amherst for a two-game series. The No. 4 ranked Minutewomen (15-14) have been a team to watch as the postseason looms ahead.

Just 1:49 into the first period, UMass’ Brianna O’Neill found an opening in the post of URI’s goaltender, Janelle Kelleher, scoring her fifth of the season off an assist from Katerina Nikolopoulos.

Kelleher of URI and UMass’ Mary Honan had a busy day between their teams’ pipes on Friday. The pair fended off 13 shots on goal collectively.

URI answered back in the waning minutes of the first period however. Meghan Stepka’s first goal of the season sneakily slid through the five-hole of Honan. It hasn’t been common for teams to sneak one by Honan who has shown to be one of the best in the entire division. She hasn’t had a single loss in her five games played and has built up a .963 save percentage.

The second period proved to be the breaking point for the Rams. UMass slotted home seven goals. Katerina Nikolopoulous opened up the scoring spree on the  power play due to a tripping call on URI’s Elizabeth Guthrie. Nikolopoulous put the Minutewomen ahead 2-1 with assists from Katherine Paradis and Rachael Difraia.

Ragan Paterson added her seventh goal of the season two minutes later, firing the puck past Kelleher. The next five minutes of play resulted in half of the period’s scoring. Nikolopoulous notched another goal off the pass of captain Holly Russell who got her 14th assist of the season. Nikolopoulous is now ranked 12th in the ACHA’s D1 Division for most points.

It was a weekend celebrating the Minutewomen senior’s per the team’s Instagram and they showed up for the team throughout the series. Paterson, a junior forward scored her second goal of the period. Directly off the faceoff, Nicole Maimonis completed a quick pass to Paterson whose wrist shot brought the score to 5-1 UMass.

Less than a minute later, URI’s first goal of the period was netted. 8:40 into the second, the Rams’ Serena Batacchi finished off a cross-ice rush from Emile Leger. The puck managed to just pass by Honan. Batacchi’s goal was the third in a less than three-minute span from the two teams. From then on out UMass dominated the Rams. A high wrist shot from Katherine Paradis and a scrappy goal from Nikki Herz closed out the scoring for the remainder of the period and game.

Though the 7-2 on the scoreboard remained vigilant throughout the last period of the game between the sides, action was far from halted. After a goaltender change from URI at the top of the period, the Rams had five shots on goal as opposed to UMass’ 12. Nonetheless the Rams continued to put up a fight; both literally and figuratively.

URI’s nine penalty minutes were on misconducts of major-boarding, checking and roughing;  all indicators of the period’s tense tempo. This physicality caused the Minutewomen to respond with a five-minute interference major, and three minor penalties on charges of roughing and hooking.

The unchanged score throughout the last period, which had a full 20 minutes worth of penalties in itself, is a testament to just how fierce the rivalry and level of play is between UMass and URI.

SATURDAY:

 On Saturday the Massachusetts women’s hockey team fell short in its quest to sweep the Rams on senior day falling in overtime by a score of 2-1.

The Minutewomen (15-4) had a strong command throughout most of the game outshooting Rhode Island 48-17 by the time the final whistle was blown. UMass senior captain Holly Russell was all over the ice on Saturday. She led the charge for the Minutewomen into the offensive zone plenty of times for them, carrying the puck deep into the Rams’ defense and creating some opportunities.

The Rams (6-11) were unsuccessful in limiting Russell and her teammates into their own zone, but they stood their ground for plenty of the game in managing to not let UMass sneak any pucks into the net.

In the second period, the Minutewomen let up one shot on goal compared to their own 16 shots they had on Rhode Island.  Coco Klisivititch got the scoring going for UMass to put it ahead 1-0 in the second. Amid all the chances that the Minutewomen were creating, Klisivititch’s lone goal in the second was all that they could muster up. Unlike on Friday where the squad was netting home goals left and right, UMass struggled to get pucks by the defense of the Rams.

The Minutewomen stayed in firm control for most of the third period until a late checking penalty was called on junior forward Kat Paradis with two minutes left to go in the period. That penalty would prove to be costly as URI went on to tie the game 30 seconds into the power play. The scored stayed knotted at one goal apiece and the two sides headed into overtime to settle it out.

The Rams completed the comeback in overtime, leaving Amherst with a victory and avoiding the sweep. The game tying goal scored by Rhode Island was the lone power play goal in the game.  UMass went 0-for-4 on its power play chances while the Rams capitalized on their lone opportunity.

The Minutewomen now have 13 days off to prepared for their next contest which comes against Rhode Island as well.

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