PROVIDENCE, RI/WATERTOWN, MA – The UConn men’s and women’s ice hockey teams each defeated higher-seeded opponents Saturday [March 6] to advance to the next round of their respective conference championship tournaments.
The women, ranked seventh nationally, defeated top-seeded Providence College 3-2 on the Friars’ home ice to advance to the Hockey East championship game against Boston University today [March 7] at 12:30 p.m. in Providence.
BU, the tournament’s third seed, easily eliminated second-seeded New Hampshire 4-0 in the second game of Saturday’s semi-finals.
The men’s team, seeded ninth and last in the Hockey East tournament, traveled to Watertown, MA and defeated eighth-seeded Bentley 2-1.
The Huskies now play a best-of-three, quarter-final series in Rochester, NY this coming weekend against the league’s top seed, Rochester Institute of Technology.
Andrew Olsen gave the Huskies a quick 1-0 lead, and scored with only three minutes elapsed in the first period in the nightcap of what amounted to a day-night doubleheader for Husky hockey fans Saturday.
And after Bentley tied it later in the period, UConn wasted no time regaining the lead when Justin Hernandez scored only 33 seconds later.
Goaltender Garrett Bartus made the lead stand up, making 27 saves.
In Providence, the women needed every one of goalie Alexandra Garcia’s 32 saves, fully 28 of them coming in the second and third periods, to stave off a furious comeback attempt by Providence.
As they had in their quarter-final win against Northeastern a week ago, the Huskies jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period and then hung on for the win.
With 4:18 off the clock in the first period, Lisa Sathopulos scored the game’s first goal with an assist from Jennifer Chaisson and Monique Weber.
Then at the 13:34 mark, Michelle Binning fed a nifty pass to Amy Hollstein who stuck it past the PC goalie.
Four minutes later, Hollstein returned the favor, and set up Binning who scored UConn’s third goal, which ultimately proved to be the game-winner.
UConn Coach Heather Linstad said she didn’t change any strategy after her team had built the 3-0 lead, but offered a couple of reasons for the lack of scoring in the next two periods that allowed the Friars to climb back into the game.
“I think we were a bit back on our heels in the second period, but then we bounced back nicely in the final period,” Linstad said, while crediting Providence with finding a way to take advantage of UConn’s line changes after the opening period.
Connecticut got a bit of revenge on Providence, which had eliminated the Huskies from the conference tournament the past two years, but UConn junior forward Jennifer Chaisson, for one, said revenge was not really a motivating factor in Saturday’s match.
“That’s all in the past, you can’t look back. We really wanted to get to the championship game, that was our goal,” she said.
After out-shooting PC 15-4 in the first period, UConn could muster a total of only six shots on goal the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Providence out-shot the Huskies 19-2, but could only manage one goal for their efforts.
Friars forward Alyse Ruff said she thought the team had been too determined to beat Connecticut, “and we may not have focused enough early in the game”
“You can’t come out slow initially, because it really hurts us,” she said.
Providence had a golden opportunity to score midway through the third period when two Huskies were banished to the penalty box at the same time, but UConn defenders rose to the occasion and got through the five-on-three situation without allowing a goal.
“You have to give credit to the University of Connecticut. They played extremely well today,” said Providence Coach Bob Deraney. “This was a classic Hockey East tournament game. It’s the epitome of what women’s hockey is all about,” Deraney said.
Posted March 7, 2010