|University of Maine||Merrimack College|
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – No. 10 Maine women’s ice hockey found their groove at the end of the second period, scoring four goals in the final 23 minutes of play, to help surge past Merrimack College, 5-1, on Saturday afternoon at Lawler Rink.
Firing a deep shot just in front of the blue line, Brittany Kucera opened up scoring late in the first period, with some help from teammate Brooke Stacey blocking Merrimack goaltender Samantha Ridgewell’s view. Kucera received the puck from Anna Zikova and Tereza Vanisova while playing 4-on-4 action on the ice as 4:02 remained on the clock in the opening frame. The Black Bears closed out the first period with a 1-0 advantage over the Warriors (8-14-3, 3-10-2 WHEA).
Retaliating early in the second period, the Warriors had a chance to even up the score as Dominique Kremer sent a pass off the wall for Katelyn Rae to skate onto. Rae pushed the puck towards net and angled a shot to the far back corner to tie up the game, 1-1, exactly 2:00 minutes into the middle frame.
Scoring the Black Bears first power play goal since December, Michelle Weis took full advantage of the extra man on the ice finding an open area in the left corner to receive the puck from Kucera. She lifted the puck up over Ridgewell’s shoulder finding the top-shelf in the final three minutes of the second period. Recording her sixth goal of the season, Weis jumped up to fourth place for the top freshman scorers in the WHEA with 16 points. Vanisova dished out her second assist of the game as Maine reclaimed the lead, 2-1.
Maine found a last second goal to cushion their lead to 3-1 closing out the second period with 2.9 seconds on the clock. Anna Zikova skated the puck in from the blue line to find a clear angle and ripped one towards net from the left side of the ice. Daria Tereshkina stuck her stick out as the puck soared past her, tipping it past two defenders and Ridgewell into the back of the net. Earning her first of the point of her senior year, Victoria Hummel started off the play for an assist.
After a miscommunication between Merrimack goaltender and teammates behind their own net, the puck was abandoned just long enough for Cailey Hutchison to sneak in and steal it. Wrapping directly around net, she tucked in Maine’s fourth goal of the game and her fourth of the season. Picking up assists were Tereshkina and Zikova for her third assist of the game.
Finishing out the match with an empty netter, Vanisova deked out two defenders then watched the puck slide over the goal line with 13 seconds left to play. Brooke Stacey was awarded the lone assist on the final goal to lift the Black Bears to a 5-1 win over the Warriors.
In net for Maine, Carly Jackson turned away 22 shots while Ridegwell stopped a total of 23. Defensively, Merrimack just barely edged Maine in blocked shots, 14-13. With this win, the Black Bears continue their nine-game unbeaten streak with four consecutive wins.
The two teams will face-off again next weekend for a two-game series at the Alfond Arena. The first game is on Friday, Jan. 19 with a 2:00 p.m. puck drop.