STORRS, Conn. – Ties usually are not a cause for much celebration, and the UConn women’s ice hockey team isn’t content with Friday’s 2-2 draw with No. 3 Boston College, but optimistic thinking is evident this season.
The Huskies (3-2-1, 0-1-1 WHEA), behind a monster 45-save performance by senior goalie Annie Belanger, earned a hard-fought tie against one of the country’s premiere teams at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum in Hockey East action.
Seniors Theresa Knutson and Leah Lum scored the goals for UConn, giving the Huskies a pair of leads throughout the contest. Senior Justine Fredette, junior Kayla Mee and freshman Natalie Snodgrass recorded assists in the tie.
“Our team holds itself to a high standard this year, and we’re not happy with the tie. We had the lead, but gave up two power play goals,” said head coach Chris MacKenzie. “We can hang with them; we’ll take the point, but we want more for our program.”
Late in the game, Belanger shined for the Huskies – recording 22 of her 45 saves in the third period to counter the 22-8 shot discrepancy. Neither team scored in the final 25 minutes, despite opportunities on both ends.
For Belanger, 45 saves is the second-most in a game throughout her career, with only a 48-save effort against Northeastern in her freshman season standing taller. The Eagles scored both of their goals on power play chances.
“It felt good. After the second period, I was reminding myself of that second goal and I was trying to make up for it,” said Belanger. “We’ve been doing this a while with the same people, so I’m confident in our defense.”
Each team recorded four penalties, as the Huskies capitalized early in the second period after a hooking call on Boston College. Snodgrass flew up the right side of the ice, finding Lum down the middle who collected her own rebound and found the back of the net.
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UConn took a 2-1 lead after Lum’s third goal of the season, its second lead of the game after Knutson put the Huskies on the board at 7:30 in the first. Mee hit a shot near the blue line, which Knutson redirected to beat Eagles’ goalie Katie Burt for a 1-0 edge.
Boston College rebounded after facing a pair of deficits, as the Eagles scored late in the first period with UConn’s Jaime Fox in the penalty box for tripping. In the second period, they scored late once again – this time with junior Rebecca Lindblad in the box.
Entering the game, UConn ranked sixth in Hockey East when it came to penalty kills (9-of-11, 81.8%). On Friday, it was just 2-of-4.
“Penalty kills. If we hold them off, it’s a totally different story,” said MacKenzie. “We need to believe that we can play the full 60 minutes, and when it gets real tight, we play to win the game. A few of our players played to win, a few others played not to lose, and that’s a great learning opportunity.”
Burt recorded 28 saves for the Eagles, while Daryl Watts and Toni Ann Miano posted the goals for Boston College. The Huskies were outshot, 47-30. Friday’s meeting was the first of three this season between the two programs, as the Eagles return to Freitas on Nov. 18.
UConn is back in Hockey East action on Sunday when it plays at Boston University with puck drop at 3 p.m. (ET) in the Walter Brown Arena. The Huskies get a 12-day break after their game with the Terriers, returning home on Nov. 3 and 4 against RPI.