Women’s hockey claims first victory

FRESHMAN FORWARD WHITNEY RENN PUSHES forward with the puck during the Engineers’ Family Weekend matchup against the University of Connecticut at the Houston Field House. The women went 1-0-1 for the weekend.

In the first game of a two-game home series with the University of Connecticut Huskies on Saturday afternoon, RPI scored three times in the second period to build a commanding 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play. UConn answered with a power play goal midway through the third period but it was too little too late for the Huskies as they fell to the Engineers 4-1.

In the first period, both teams fought hard defensively and held each other scoreless. Senior goalie Kelly O’ Brien made eight saves while Husky netminder Elaine Chuli made seven. Despite an edge of three power plays to one, the Engineers failed to capitalize early. But then RPI hopes came to fruition when a fourth power play early in the second period resulted in a goal for junior forward Alexa Gruschow at the 2:22 mark. The goal was assisted by senior forward Ali Svoboda and senior defender Kathryn Schilter.

With 5:43 gone by in the second period, RPI received another power play when UConn forward Brittany Berisoff was penalized for interference. Gruschow won the faceoff, and dished the puck to junior forward Lauren Wash, who found Schilter open in the Husky zone. Schilter gathered the puck and found the back of the net just five seconds after the power play began to bolster the RPI lead to two.

Gruschow scored her second goal of the evening with 7:37 remaining in the middle period to give the Engineers a cushioned three-goal lead.

Nine minutes and 50 seconds into the third period, UConn took advantage of an RPI body checking penalty to cut the deficit to 3-1 by virtue of a forward Kelly Harris power play goal. As time ran out on a possible Husky comeback, Connecticut pulled Chuli with 1:18 remaining. 11 seconds later, senior left wing Taylor Mahoney scored an empty-netter to bring the game to its final tally, RPI 4, UConn 1. Wash and freshman forward Whitney Renn assisted the goal. The win marks Rensselaer’s first of the season.

The second game of the series on the following afternoon was much closer. UConn forward Sarah MacDonnell scored shorthanded four minutes and 23 seconds in to give the Huskies an early lead. But, the Engineers responded quickly when Mahoney found freshman forward Shayna Tomlinson to tie the score at one with 10:20 remaining in the opening period.

In the second period, RPI held off several Husky charges until a power play goal by Harris with 2:04 remaining put Connecticut back on top, 2-1.

6:39 into the final period, sophomore Laura Horwood tied the score, assisted by Gruschow and sophomore defender Hannah Behounek. The score capped off an RPI offensive spurt in which the Engineers fired 15 shots in less than seven minutes to begin the third period.

90 seconds later, Tomlinson almost gave RPI the lead, blazing a shot toward the Husky net. But the puck ricocheted harmlessly off the post and UConn goalie Annie Belanger gathered the follow from senior defender Delaney Middlebrook to keep the game tied.

The game was still tied after 60 minutes of play. Neither side managed to score during overtime and the contest ended in a 2-2 tie.

In the game Belanger made 30 saves on 32 shots faced while Engineer senior goalie Brianna Piper made 18 saves on 20 attempts.

Following the tie, Connecticut is now 2-4-3 while RPI holds a tally of 1-4-2. This weekend, the Engineers will travel to New England to face Harvard University on Friday, October 31, and Dartmouth College on Saturday, November 1 in its first Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference action of the 2014–2015 campaign.