MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Saint Anselm College women's ice hockey team mounted a third-period rally that was ended by a late short-handed, empty-net goal as Sacred Heart University won the inaugural New England Women's Hockey Alliance Tournament title by a 3-1 score on Sunday at Sullivan Arena.
Third-seeded Sacred Heart (27-6-2) led 2-0 after two periods on goals by Taylor Moreland and Lexi Edwards, but top-seeded Saint Anselm (21-4-4) halved its deficit near the midway point of the third on a Kaley Campbell goal. With the Hawks pushing for a tying goal, Olivia Bryant tossed the puck the length of the ice into an empty net with 1:24 left to seal the win for the Pioneers.
Following the game, sophomore defenseman Haley Marshall and senior forward Ashley Moran were named to the All-Tournament Team, along with Sacred Heart's Sarah Erban, Jayne Lewis, Taylor Moreland and Bryant. Erban was named the Most Outstanding Player after allowing just two goals on 60 shots faced over two games.
Sacred Heart started the game on the front foot, outshooting Saint Anselm, 15-4, in the opening period. The Pioneers grabbed the lone goal of the first 20 minutes at 5:58 when Moreland was on hand to put home a loose puck near the left post for her 30th goal of the season. Lewis started the play with a shot from the point that resulted in a rebound in front.
Saint Anselm was whistled for four minor penalties in the first period, but sophomore Michaela Kane and the rest of the defense kept the damage to a single goal.
The Pioneers doubled their lead to 2-0 at 14:53 of the second when Maddie Bishop found Lexi Edwards in front of the net from the right corner and Edwards beat Kane after her initial shot fell right back into her path.
Down by two goals, Saint Anselm staged a third-period rally, outshooting Sacred Heart, 17-4, in the final 20 minutes. The Hawks' pressure was rewarded at the 8:27 mark when Campbell tallied her 12th of the season to make it a 2-1 game. From near the left corner, Kaitlyn Spillane fed the puck back to Samantha Boyer at the left point. Boyer fired a shot that was knocked down in front and Campbell was there to slide past Erban to bring the Hawks within a goal.
Just a couple minutes later, sophomore Megan Klaus fired a shot square off the cross bar from straight on just inside the blue line as Saint Anselm came within inches of tying the game. After Sacred Heart had two power-play chances later in the period, Saint Anselm got a chance with the extra skater with 1:30 remaining.
With its net empty for a 6-on-4 situation, Moreland won a defensive-zone faceoff for the Pioneers back to Bryant, who threw the puck the length of the ice into a vacated net to seal the victory for Sacred Heart. Erban had 32 saves for the Pioneers, while Kane stopped 24 shots for the Hawks.
The game marked the final contest in the careers of Saint Anselm's five seniors: Jackie Guy, Ashley Moran, Kaitlyn Spillane, Paige Gorecki and Samantha Boyer. The six helped the Hawks to three-straight 20 win seasons to close out their careers and 82 victories over their four-year careers.
With her assist on Campbell's goal, Spillane finishes her career tied for ninth all-time with 97 points on 43 goals and 54 assists. Her 43 goals are tied for 10th in program history, while the 54 assists are one shy of the program's top-10.