UMass women’s hockey sweep weekend series against University of Minnesota

The Minutewomen hold firm to their top ten ranking

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Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

By Shanti Furtado and Johnny Depin

The Massachusetts women’s hockey team won both of its games against the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers this weekend after being away from the Mullins Practice Arena since November 20th.

The now No. 5 ranked Minutewoman (14-4) continue to climb the standings of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, bridging an even larger gap between them and their weekend opponent in the No. 23 Golden Gophers, who they outscored 11-3 in two games this weekend. UMass’ current placement makes for strong contention in the playoff window, the top 10 teams at the end of the regular season qualifying for the National Tournament.

The scoring began early on Friday, when UMass’ Marissa Gregory found the net off a smooth pass from Nicole Maimonis 9:30 into the first period. The scoring in the first didn’t stop there. Brianna O’Neill slotted the puck top shelf off passes from Grace Flanagan and Rachel DiFraia making the score 2-0 at the end of the first.

In the second period, the Minutewomen kept up the pressure. The puck rarely entered the zone of UMass’ goaltender Casey Marshall. The large presence on the offensive continued to pay off, as Maimonis added one of her own five minutes into the second. The score would remain 3-0 as the game advanced into the third period.

Things seemed to be unraveling for the Minutewomen early in the third, as UMass’ Marshall finally let one through to make the score 3-1. The Minutewomen soon after received a powerplay for a tripping call on Minnesota’s Hannah Vitelli but couldn’t score on the two-minute misconduct.

UMass’ Kat Paradis got the final goal of the night, scoring on a shot off the post from O’Neill. The 4-1 score would hold until the clock bled zero, and the Minutewomen won the first of two weekend games,

In a matinee game the following day, the Minutewomen’s momentum held true. In front of a packed crowd, the home team struck 39 seconds into the first period. The goal came from Maimonis, who finished with five points on the weekend.

A holding call on the Golden Gopher’s Dora Harag soon after Maimonis’ goal gave the Minutewomen the opportunity of a penalty shot. Brianna O’Neill narrowly missed the shot, Minnesota’s goaltender Emilie Bartels stood tall at net to block the shot.

Another star performance was at the stick of Regan Paterson, accumulating six points on Saturday, a single collegiate game high for the Junior Forward. She answered Maimonis’ opening goal, with two of her own back-to-back.

The Golden Gophers quickly responded to UMass’ command of the game, Molly Merthan finding the back of the net on an unassisted goal 17:43 into the first period. This action showed promise for the away team, but not enough to mount a comeback.

Early into the second period, Maimonis continued her strong play, finding the connection from Paterson and Gregory with congestion in front of the five hole of Minnesota netminder Bartels.

The period came with 10 penalty minutes, four of which at the fault of UMass. The Minutewomen’s penalty kill, and goaltending continue to stand strong as strengths for the team; able to fend off Minnesota’s marginal chances, the team only put up five shots on goal, versus UMass’ 17 in the second period alone.

These substantial chances had payoff, as Bartels let another goal slip by. This time on a cross-ice rush with Coco Klisivitch’s wrist shot splashing to the back of the net for her first goal of the season.

Minnesota answered back to open the third period’s scoring. After a hooking call on UMass’ Gregory 11:47 into the final 20 minutes of play, the Golden Gophers’ Ava Wagner directed a quick pass to Emily Rubins, whose knee drop one-timer shot went high and out of reach for UMass’ goaltender, making the score 5-2.

Gregory bounced back from her time in the box to put up yet another goal for the Minutewomen. After much deliberation whether the shot had crossed the line under conditions not violating goaltender interference, UMass was granted their sixth goal of the afternoon.

To cap off their game of substantial offensive production, the Minutewomen scored again with 42.6 seconds remaining in the third. On the powerplay, Paterson and DiFraia led a 1-3-1 formation, Maya Borden’s shot reached the back of the net to make the final score 7-2.

UMass will continue its home stand into the coming weekend, looking at its second series of the season against the University of Rhode Island. Puck drop is set for 8:50 p.m. Feb. 11th and 11:20 a.m. Feb 12th.

Shanti Furtado can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @shantifurtado

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jdepin101