Third Period Surge Propels SHU Women’s Hockey Past Rhode Island

Tara Kent

Bridgeport, CT - The SHU women's hockey team scored three goals in the final period to break a 3-3 stalemate at the second intermission and pick up a 6-4 victory over Rhode Island Friday night at the Wonderland of Ice.  Freshman Melissa Robbins (Nashua, NH) racked up four points, one goal and three assists, in the triumph.

Rhode Island tallied the first five shots on goal but would be unable to get an early marker past Schutt, who made seven saves in the period.  Schutt's best save of the frame came as she flashed some leather and gloved a straight on slap shot from Kayla Robidoux.  The Pioneers got a short-handed opportunity after the game's first penalty as Jamie Mey's hard wrist shot was turned away by the blocker of URI goalie Kayla DiLorenzo.

However, it was the Rams who broke onto the scoreboard with a short-handed tally.  Johanna Leskinen beat the goaltender with a backhand at the 4:41 mark with the assist coming from Meghan Birnie.  Sacred Heart responded just 16 seconds later, with the teams back at even strength.  Alex Davis (Pembroke, MA) rang a shot off the post and Cara Curran slammed home the rebound to knot the score at 1-1.  Briana Connolly (Duxbury, MA) also earned an assist on the play as the two teams finished the first period tied.

The Rams regained a one goal advantage just 1:21 into the second period as Meghan Birnie slipped the puck into the back of the net.  Shortly later Schutt made a great save to keep it a one goal game, kicking away Leskinen shot following a two-on-one opportunity. 

The Pioneers leveled at 2-2 with a power play goal midway through the second period.  Tara Kent (Glenview, IL) picked out the top right corner of the net for the goal, Robbins and Nicole Palazzo (Rocky Hill, CT) picked up assists on the play.   Sacred Heart took its first lead of the day as Kent and Palazzo set up Robbins for a goal at the 7:45 mark.  It would take URI just 1:11 to pull back even with Leskinen notching an unassisted goal following a faceoff.  The teams skated into the second intermission still tied at 3-3.

Palazzo regained the lead for SHU as the senior sprinted in to finish a short-handed goal seven minutes into the final period.  Maura Leahy extended the Pioneer lead 2:25 later with assists from Kent and Robbins.  The third period barrage continued and the Sacred Heart lead ballooned to three goals on a marker from Jennie Robinson (Hyde Park, NY).  Robinson lit the lamp by slotting home a rebound following a shot from Sara Hanna (Lino Lakes, MN) to make it 6-3.

Rhode Island closed the gap late on a Lauren Hillberg power play goal with 1:48 remaining in regulation.  However, it would be too little, too late as the Pioneers outshot the Rams 12-4 in the final period to seal a 6-4 victory.  Schutt finished with 23 saves between the pipes to pick up the victory.

Sacred Heart and Rhode Island will complete the weekend series tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 pm at the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport, CT.