In the first of two games against St. Cloud State last weekend, senior right wing Ali Svoboda scored to tie the score at two late in the high-scoring opening period. But, a shorthanded goal by St. Cloud State early in the second period gave the Huskies the third and final goal they needed to beat the Engineers. The following afternoon, the Huskies scored a power play goal in the first period and never looked back, winning the second game 3-0.
Nine minutes into Friday’s matchup, the Engineers mishandled the puck and St. Cloud center Molly Illikainen broke away from the pack and flipped the puck past senior goalie Brianna Piper to put the visitors up 1-0. Then, immediately following the goal, St. Cloud went on the power play. 23 seconds later, Husky forward Lauren Hespenheide scored from the left wing to put St. Cloud up by two.
The Engineers didn’t go away quietly though. After St. Cloud goalie Julie Friend saved the first seven shots she faced, a rebound and shot by junior forward Lauren Wash found the back of the net to put Rensselaer back within one. Then, two and a half minutes later, freshman center Shayna Tomlinson weaved toward the St. Cloud goal and dished the puck to Svoboda. Svoboda gathered the puck and blasted it past Friend to tie the score at two.
With 5:52 gone by in the second period, St. Cloud defender Alexandra Makaric was penalized for body checking and RPI went on the power play. One minute later, a poorly timed pass by the Engineers was stolen by Illikainen who found forward Abby Ness open up ahead to score the go-ahead goal for the Huskies.
The final 30 minutes of the game were highlighted by several missed scoring opportunities for both sides. Piper made thirteen saves down the stretch to keep RPI within one. However, Friend managed to close out the victory by making 20 stops in the final two periods. She finished with 28, while Piper stopped 23 of 26 shots she faced.
A power play goal for St. Cloud State at the 11:27 mark in the first period was the only score the Huskies needed to beat the Engineers on Saturday. But, Husky forward Spataro and Illikainen each added goals of their own midway through the second period.
Meanwhile, the Engineers’ offense failed to ignite. Husky goalie Katie Fitzgerald made eight saves and earned a 3-0 shutout victory to give St. Cloud the sweep. For RPI, senior goalie Kelly O’Brien was great between the pipes, saving 33 of 36 shots she faced.
With the pair of victories, St. Cloud State improves to 5-4-1 while the Engineers fall to 1-7-3. Next up for Rensselaer is a weekend road trip to Quinnipiac University on Friday, November 14, and Princeton University on Saturday, November 15.