Mueller's goal gives women's ice hockey win over Sacred Heart

MANCHESTER, N.H. – A power-play goal by junior Caley Mueller late in the second period was enough to give the Saint Anselm College women's ice hockey team a 1-0 victory over Sacred Heart University, as the Hawks secured a bye in the upcoming New England Women's Hockey Alliance (NEWHA) Open Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Sullivan Arena.

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A day after the teams combined for eight goals in a 4-4 tie, Mueller scored the lone goal of the game at 15:24 of the second and the Saint Anselm (19-2-4, 14-1-3 NEWHA) defense took care of the rest to keep Sacred Heart (22-6-2, 11-5-2) off the board. The Pioneers, which were held without a goal for the third time this season and the second time by the Hawks, entered the afternoon leading all of NCAA Divisions I and II in scoring offense at 4.55 goals per game.

The victory extended Saint Anselm's unbeaten streak to nine-straight games (6-0-3), the longest active streak in Divisions I/II, and brought an end to Sacred Heart's eight-game unbeaten run. The game was the 100th in the career of senior Kaitlyn Spillane, who joined teammates Ashley Moran and Jackie Guy in hitting the milestone this season.

Just 32 seconds into a Saint Anselm power play, Mueller grabbed her third game-winning goal of the season, tying her with freshman Katy Meehan for the team lead in the category. From the goal line extended on the right, freshman Kathleen LeFebre dropped the puck back to Moran in the slot, Moran fired a shot that deflected off a defenseman and drew a sprawling save from Sarah Erban, but Mueller was on hand to tap in the loose puck on the right post.

The goal came during a flurry late in the second that saw the Hawks fire five shots on Erban in less than four minutes. Sophomore Mary Morrison also came inches from opening the scoring at 6:51 of the second when she hit the pipe from the left side.

Saint Anselm came close to adding a second goal twice in the third period. Sophomore Megan Klaus teed one up from the slot but was denied by Erban midway through the period. With just under seven minutes remaining, Erban made a glove save to thwart a breakaway by Moran to keep her team in with a chance.

The Hawks limited the Pioneers to just four shots on goal in the third, including just one in the final 10-plus minutes. Sophomore Michaela Kane logged her third shutout in seven starts (6-0-1) this season with a 20-save afternoon, which was sealed with a save on a Brittany Smith shot with 29 seconds remaining.

Erban finished with 27 saves for Sacred Heart but fell to 14-4-2 on the season.

Saint Anselm will face Holy Cross in a home-and-home series that will decide the top-two seeds in the NEWHA Open Tournament next weekend. The Hawks are currently one point ahead of the Crusaders with two games left, with both teams locked into opening-round byes in the tournament.

The series begins with a 7:05 p.m. start on Friday, Feb. 16 in Worcester, Mass.