Junior center Hunter Barnett scored her second goal of the season 2 minutes, 10 seconds into overtime on Wednesday night, lifting Providence College to a 1-0 Hockey East women’s hockey semifinal victory over the University of Maine at Schneider Arena in Providence, Rhode Island.
The third-seeded Friars (12-6-1) advance to Saturday’s championship game against 19-1-1 Northeastern, the nation’s top-ranked team.
Fifth-seeded UMaine, which played all of its games on the road this season due to the state’s COVID-19 indoor gathering limit of 50 people, finished at 8-9-1.
Junior goalie Sandra Abstreiter made 33 saves in posting her fourth shutout of the season and her second against UMaine. She was aided by 23 blocked shots by her teammates.
Senior All-Hockey East second-team goalie Loryn Porter finished with 22 stops for the fifth-seeded Black Bears. It was the 12th time this season she has held an opponent to one goal or less.
A poor line change by UMaine aided Providence on the game-winner as a Black Bear was in a race with Providence’s Giana Savastano for the loose puck.
Savastano dove and swept it in front of the net to the wide-open Barnett, who carried it across the top of the crease and tucked a back-hander between Porter’s left skate and the post.
“We knew coming into the game that Providence was going to play a pretty defensive style and be good in front of both nets,” UMaine head coach Rick Reichenbach said. “They proved that.
“We had a couple of opportunities. We had a great rebound on the power play [in the first period] we just couldn’t find and a couple others in which we were fishing through skates. That’s definitely a strength of their game.”
The Black Bears outshot Providence 31-22 through regulation time, including a 21-10 edge through the first two periods.
Providence was playing with just 15 skaters instead of the maximum 19 allowed.
UMaine leading scorer and All-Hockey East second-team selection Ida Kuoppala had a short-handed breakaway in the first period after poking the puck away from a Friar at the offensive blue line.
Kuopppala tried to beat Abstreiter to the blocker side, but rang her wrist shot off the post.
Porter came up with a couple of gems in the second period, getting her blocker on Lindsay Bochna’s breakaway after using her blocker to steer away Hayley Lunny’s back-hander from the bottom of the right faceoff circle.
“I expected a low-scoring game but I didn’t expect 0-0 going into overtime,” Reichenbach said. “They battled every second of the way.”