Women's hockey flies past Holy Cross in battle atop the NEHC

WORCESTER, Mass. – With first place in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) on the line, Kaitlyn Spillane's hat trick lifted the Saint Anselm College women's hockey team to a 7-3 victory over the College of the Holy Cross on Thursday night at the Hart Center.

Box Score

Saint Anselm (19-2-3, 14-1-1 NEHC), which entered the game one point ahead of Holy Cross (20-4-0, 13-3-0 NEHC), scored the game's first three goals and led by at least two goals the rest of the way. Saint Anselm's seven goals were the most by a Holy Cross opponent since the Hawks downed the Crusaders by an identical 7-3 scoreline on Feb. 26, 2012 in the ECAC Open title game.

Saint Anselm also recorded its first regular-season sweep of Holy Cross since 2013-14 and ended the Crusaders' program-record 23-game home winning streak that dated back to last season.

In addition to Spillane's first-career hat trick, Alex Starzyk tallied two goals and an assist for the Hawks, Maura Kieft recorded three assists, Martha Findley added two and Alison Butler pitched in a goal and an assist. Butler's assist was her 26th of the season, tying Tiffany Herron's single-season program record from 2012-13.

Saint Anselm and Holy Cross combined for four goals and five minor penalties in the opening period, as the Hawks took a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. Both teams had chances in the opening couple minutes before Starzyk got the scoring started at the 5:05 mark. The senior kept the puck in the offensive zone, weaved her way in from the right and unleashed a wrist shot that beat Marcia LaPlante glove side for the 60th goal of her Saint Anselm career.

A little over four minutes later, the Hawks doubled their lead on Spillane's first of two first-period goals. Kieft set up the goal, entering the zone and drawing a save from LaPlante, but Spillane was there on the doorstep to finish it off. Spillane grabbed her second of the evening on the power play at 16:52, blasting in a shot from between the circles on the power play from Kieft and Findley.

Holy Cross got one goal back with 1:14 remaining in the first when Sam Girard jammed in a rebound off an Isabela Bagi shot from the left point. Saint Anselm outshot Holy Cross 11-5 in the opener and has outscored its opponents 45-8 in the first period this season.

Saint Anselm maintained its two-goal advantage going to the third after the teams traded second-period goals. The Hawks went ahead 4-1 at 8:10 when Alison Quinn bagged a power-play goal, re-directing a Butler backhand from between the circles in front. The Crusaders closed back within two on Sam Girard's second of the game with 2:28 left in the second, as Girard was set up on the back door by Elizabeth Scala and Kara Violette.

The two teams combined to score four goals on just 10 shots on goal in the third with all four goals coming in the final eight minutes. Findley teed up Butler at 13:12 to put the Hawks up 5-2 but the Crusaders came right back 1:12 late on a Violette goal to get back within two. Just 1:07 after Violette's tally, Saint Anselm again went ahead by three as Spillane completed her hat trick off a feed from Kieft from behind the net. Starzyk added an empty-netter with 35 seconds to go to close the scoring.

For the game, Saint Anselm outshot Holy Cross 29-14. Maddie Scavotto improved to 14-1-2 on the season with 11 saves. Laplante entered the game having allowed just six goals in seven starts over 418:45 in net but surrendered four goals in 28:27 to the Hawks to fall to 7-1. Laplante made 14 saves, before giving way to Tessie Salatas, who made eight saves over 30:56.

Saint Anselm concludes the regular season with a trip to Southern Maine on Saturday, Feb. 18. Puck drop is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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