Mercyhurst Skates By St. Lawrence
March 14, 2009
Courtesy of St. Lawrence Athletics
The 2008-09 season came to an end for the No. 8/7 St. Lawrence University women’s hockey team on Saturday ernoon, as the No. 3 Mercyhurst Lakers used a barrage of shots on goal and the clutch play of Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award nominee Meghan Agosta to pick up a 3-1 victory in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals in Erie, PA. St. Lawrence was anchored by junior netminder Brittony Chartier, who turned in a dazzling 41-save performance.
Mercyhurst moved to 30-5-0 with the victory and will face the winner of the Minnesota/Boston College quarterfinal in Boston, MA next weekend. St. Lawrence’s season comes to an end with a final mark of 24-11-3 after playing in the program’s seventh NCAA Tournament.
The tone of the opening stanza was set immediately, as both St. Lawrence’s Alley Bero and Merychurt’s Jesse Scanzano had good bids on very first shift. The up-tempo pace remained throughout the 20 minutes, with the home team causing turnovers in their opponent’s zone that led to several early scoring opportunities.
Despite Mercyhurst owning the majority of scoring chances in the early-going, it was the Saints that cashed in to take a 1-0 lead 3:43 into the first period. Sophomore Kirsten Roach took a pass from first-year Vanessa Emond and ripped a wrist shot on Lakers’ goaltender Hillary Pattenden. Though the netminder made the initial stop, the puck sat between her skates which gave senior assistant captain Lisa Batchelor enough time to get her stick on the puck and tip it across the goal line for her fourth goal of the season. Both Emond and Roach picked up helpers on the goal.
“We really got just what the doctor ordered in the first period,” remarked head coach Chris Wells. “To take the lead and pump some excitement into our team was important for our confidence.”
At the far end of the ice, St. Lawrence junior goaltender Brittony Chartier put on a clinic between the pipes to allow her team to carry their 1-0 lead into the first intermission. The Saskatoon, SK native made 15 saves in the opening frame, using everything from her glove to her helmet to keep the puck from crossing the line behind her.
Though they managed 15 shots on goal in the first period, the Lakers’ best scoring bid was a short-handed breakaway chance for senior Hayley McMeekin that came just over a minute after the St. Lawrence goal. However, Chartier caught her challenger off guard, as she came well out of her net into the slot, dove and swiped the puck away before McMeekin ever had a chance to get a shot off.
The Saints’ defensive efforts in the period were squarely centered on keeping Agosta off the score sheet as she was constantly shadowed by junior Tara Akstull and sophomore Karell Emard.
Having been frustrated by St. Lawrence throughout the first period, the Lakers wasted only 2:15 in the second period before netting their first goal to knot the game at 1-1. After Bailey Bram caused a turnover in the Saints’ zone to Chartier’s right, Vicki Bendus threaded a perfect pass right on the tape of a cutting Kelley Steadman. The Mercyhurst rookie one-timed a shot from just outside the goal mouth that beat Chartier for her 13th of the season.
St. Lawrence bounced back after allowing the first goal and did a solid job of killing off the second Mercyhurst power play of the afternoon despite the Lakers boasting the nation’s fourth-ranked unit. Senior captain Marianna Locke then tested Pattenden with a low slap shot that forced the rookie to flash some leather with a glove save to keep the game tied at 1-1 nearly midway through the second. Roach then followed with a hard wrist shot that drilled Pattenden’s blocker and bounced wide of the net.
Mercyhurst’s power play unit proved to be too aggressive for the Saints’ penalty killing group on the squad’s third try of the afternoon. With the visitors unable to clear the puck down the ice on three separate tries, the puck cycled to Agosta, who snapped a wrist shot from the right circle between Chartier’s glove and the near post for her 39th goal of the year and a 2-1 Laker lead at 14:35 of the second period.
The two-goal second period allowed the Lakers to head to the locker room with a 2-1 lead having outshot the Saints 35-8 through two periods of action. The ominous note for St. Lawrence became their track record when trailing after two periods, as they entered the game with a mark of 2-10-3 when behind after 40 minutes.
“You pretty much have to pick her poison with Mercyhurst, as they’re three lines are the best we’ve seen all season,” said Coach Wells. “You have (Meghan) Agosta on one line to try to take away, but then they come right back with (Vicki) Bendus and (Valerie) Chouinard. It’ll be a challenge for anyone to shut them down offensively.”
Mercyhurst scored the crucial insurance goal only 3:35 of the third period, opening up a two-goal cushion at 3-1 after a bit of good fortune went their way. The puck found Jess Jones to Chartier’s left, and she used a spin move to try and elude a defender and center a pass into the crease. However, the puck re-directed off the St. Lawrence defenseman’s stick and past Chartier for a Mercyhurst unassisted goal, Jones’ 16th of the season.
With a two-goal lead on their side, Mercyhurst continued to put their foot on the gas offensively, as they kept the puck in the Saints’ zone throughout the third period. Their offensive corps was able to keep the puck away from Pattenden for the majority of the frame, as St. Lawrence didn’t take their first shot on goal in the third period until 14:30 had passed.
St. Lawrence’s best chances to cut their deficit in half came on the team’s final power play of the game, as Coach Wells opted to pull Chartier for a 6-on-4 advantage. However, when Mercyhurst needed Pattenden most, she was up to the task, as she turned back Emard on back-to-back tries from just outside the crease with only 2:16 to play. The saves would be enough defense for Mercyhurst to run out the remaining time and advance to the program’s first Frozen Four.
Mercyhurst finished with a large advantage in shots on goal, 44-13, and scored the game’s only power play tally with a 1-for-5 mark. St. Lawrence was 0-for-3 with the player advantage and won only 23-of-64 face-offs. Chartier closed with 41 saves in the game, which matched each of her totals from the regular season games the Mercyhurst Ice Center while Pattenden made 12 stops to earn the win.
The game is the last in the Scarlet and Brown for the senior class, which includes five outstanding student-athletes that finished the game on the ice together: Marianna Locke, Jordan Pyers, Carson Duggan, Domenico and Batchelor. In their four years with the team, St. Lawrence made four NCAA Tournament appearances, advanced to two Frozen Fours and finished with an overall record of 112-34-9 (.752).