STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut women's ice hockey team trailed most of the game, but was never out of it as they took on No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth at the Freitas Ice Forum on Friday night. The Bulldogs, who swept the Huskies by a combined 12-0 score a year ago, came away with a hard fought 5-4 win.
UConn (0-3-2) came out strong in the first period, outshooting UMD (2-1-0) 14-11, but it was the Bulldogs that took the first lead of the game. At the 3:53 mark, Husky senior goaltender Alexandra Garcia (Pointe-Claire, Que.) stopped a shot by Bulldog freshman Emma Stauber, but junior Katie Wilson picked up the loose puck and put it in the back of the net.
Connecticut was given a power play opportunity later in the first and capitalized almost immediately. Freshman forward Emily Snodgrass (Eagan, Minn.) got it started by winning a face-off to the right of UMD senior goalie Jennifer Harss. UConn redshirt-sophomore Maggie Walsh (Bloomfield, Conn.) won the puck behind the net and found Snodgrass out front for the score, 16:13 into the first.
Minnesota-Duluth regained the lead 8:31 into the second period on a goal by junior Vanessa Thibault. The Bulldogs quickly added to their lead with an unassisted score by junior Audrey Cournoyer, just 27 seconds later.
The Huskies cut the lead to one when sophomore Jocelyn Slattery (Hugo, Minn.) carried the puck up the left wing and played a centering feed for a trailing Rebecca Hewett (Oak Bluff, Minn.). Hewett, a junior defenseman, beat Harss with a shot to the top shelf to bring the score to 3-2, 13:32 into the frame. The teams appeared be ready to head to their locker rooms with a one-goal differential until UMD junior defender Jessica Wong got off back-to-back shots, the second of which barely crossed the goal line to give the Bulldogs a two-goal lead with less than six seconds to play in the period.
In the third period, UConn trimmed the lead back down to one when sophomore forward Alexandra Vakos (Hamden, Conn.) slipped a pass to the point for Slattery, who ripped a shot into the net, 4:26 in. Minnesota-Duluth pushed the lead back to two with a score from senior forward Haley Irwin at the 17:30 mark.
With less than two minutes to play, the Huskies pulled their goalie and were able to knock in a goal with the extra attacker. Sophomore Taylor Gross (Colorado Springs, Colo.), assisted by sophomore Stephanie Raithby (London, Ont.) and junior defender Maude Blain (Magog, Que.), produced the goal.
For the game, Garcia totaled 34 saves between the pipes, while Harrs made 17. UMD outshot UConn 39-21, including 19-2 in the second period.
The Huskies and Bulldogs take to the ice again tomorrow for a re-match at 4:00 pm.