Pioneers Enter Winter Break with 1-1 Tie Against Franklin Pierce

Pioneers Enter Winter Break with 1-1 Tie Against Franklin Pierce

SHELTON, Conn. – Two shorthanded goals were all either offense could manage as goaltenders Amanda Fontaine and Shannon O'Neil combined to make 66 saves in a 1-1 tie between Sacred Heart and Franklin at the Sports Center of Connecticut on Sunday evening. The Pioneers will enter their winter break unbeaten in four of their previous five and standing at 2-4-2 overall. 

After 35 minutes of scoreless hockey, it was Hanna Skelley's shorthanded score providing the initial breakthrough for SHU with 4:39 left in the second, as she beat the goalie one-on-one with a wrister into the upper corner from the slot. Amie Varano cleared the puck up the boards finding Casey Stathopoulos, who sent a composed pass right into the center to Skelley. For Skelley it was her team-high fifth goal of the season, while Stathopoulos added to her team lead with five assists and Varano picked up her first helper of the year.

Just when it looked like Sacred Heart could potentially hold on for the shutout, up 1-0 and on the power play just over seven minutes remaining, Franklin Pierce struck for it's a shorthanded goal of its own. Francesca Paciello collected the puck at her own blue line on the left side and slipped through two Pioneer defenders around center ice to set up a one-on-one situation with Fonatine. Paciello sent her shot through the five hole to even the score with 7:08 showing on the clock. 

From there, SHU was forced to earn the tie as it had to stave off a 5-3 FPU opportunity at the end of the third and the beginning of the overtime period. Megan Ofner and Carly Radovich each blocked in the two power play opportunities before Fonatine made five saves in the extra period. Radovich also had the Pioneers' lone attempt on net in overtime as they Ravens held a 5-1 edge in shots.

Fontaine made 37 of those 66 saves with O'Neil registering 29. In a game will 11 combined penalties, 10 of which were after the first period, the teams went a combined 0-9 on the power play.

Sacred Heart returns from its winter break with back-to-back home games on January 2 and 3. First up will be Salem State on 2nd at 4 pm before Saint Anselm visits the Sports Center of CT on the 3rd for a 2 pm start.