SHELTON Conn – Sacred Heart University women's ice hockey Head Coach Thomas O'Malley and his team opened play at its new home in emphatic fashion on Friday night as the Pioneers defeated SUNY Canton, 4-0, in the program's first ever home game at the Sports Center of Connecticut. O'Malley also reach an individual milestone as he picked up his 100th career victory at Sacred Heart. Megan Ofner powered SHU with two goals in the final three minutes of the first period and Amanda Fontaine recorded 13 saves to pick up the shutout as the Pioneers move to 1-2-0 on the year. The Kangaroos fall to 0-3-0 to start the season.
Ofner's two goals came less than two minutes apart, as she put SHU ahead with just under three minutes remaining until the first intermission. After a SUNY penalty, the Pioneer power play took advantage of the man-up situation and worked the puck to Ofner who beat Kangaroo goalie Rebecca DiNardo for her first score of the year. Brittany Smith and Taylor Moreland assisted on the play, as the freshman duo both picked up their first career points. Moments later with just over one minute to play in the period, Ofner found the back of the net again to give Sacred Heart a 2-0 lead. Moreland and Amie Varano assisted on the even strength score. Ofner's two goals move her into a tie for the team-lead and Varano is now tied for the team-lead in assists with two.
Fontaine made sure the Pioneer lead held throughout the second period as she denied five Kangaroo shots before SHU took the commanding 3-0 lead with just under five minutes remaining before the second intermission. Emily Falvey put home her first goal of the year with 4:44 remaining, as Hanna Skelley and Briana Conolly picked up their first assists in 2014-15.
Sacred Heart made it 4-0 midway through the final frame as Alanna Woodford knocked home a rebound after Casey Stathopoulos was denied by a spectacular effort from DiNardo on a breakaway. It was the second goal of the year for Woodford as she now leads SHU with four points and is tied for the team-lead in goals with two. Stathopoulos and Natasha Klinoff assisted on the score. Klinoff is one of three Pioneers with a team-leading two assists.
Falvey powered the Pioneer offense early as she had three stops denied by DiNardo early in the first ten minutes of the first period. Cassandra Hanlon nearly gave SHU the lead with just over five minutes remaining in the first frame but her shot hit the pipe. After Sacred Heart went up 2-0 with just over one minute remaining in the first frame, Fontaine denied Margret Troiano with half a minute left to secure SHU's 2-0 advantage heading into the first intermission.
The Pioneers held a 26-13 advantage in shots for the contest as they forced 22 saves from DiNardo. The SHU penalty kill denied SUNY on three occasions, including a five on three late in the third, while the Pioneer power play went 1-4.
Sacred Heart will be right back in its new home tomorrow, as the Pioneers host the Kangaroos for the second game of a back-to-back at 2 pm.