MANCHESTER, N.H. – Seniors Franny Nicholson (Saint Paul, Minn.) and Tiffany Herron (Clinton Township, Mich.) each scored a goal and an assist Saturday as the Saint Anselm women's hockey team battled to a 4-1 win over University of New England at Sullivan Arena.
The win improves Saint Anselm to 14-4-2 overall and 10-2-1 in ECAC East conference action. It also kept the Hawks within striking distance of league-leading Norwich, which was idle Saturday, just one point behind the Cadets for the regular season crown. U. of New England drops to 4-12-5 overall and 1-9-3 in the ECAC.
Despite a matchup that, by the numbers, looked to be pretty one-sided, the Hawks saw a very calculated game plan by the Nor'easters. UNE skated with an extra defender and packed in the defense on its side of the ice, making it difficult for the Hawks to get many clean looks at the net.
That said, Saint Anselm outshot UNE by a whopping 54-7, including a 23-1 advantage in the first period alone. Yet the Nor'easters stymied the Hawks for much of the game, holding Saint Anselm to just one even-strength goal and making the Hawks' power play chances integral to securing the victory.
The Hawks finally broke through at the 18:36 mark of the first period, as Herron sent the puck across the sheet to a waiting Nicholson, who rocketed the game-opener from outside the right faceoff circle for a 5-on-3 power play goal.
The Nor'easters would again let their defense to the talking as it simply withstood a barrage of shots from the hosts. Despite the puck being rarely possessed on its offensive side of the ice, UNE's Emily Corrales cleaned up a bouncing puck to tie the game at the 16:21 mark of the second period. The play was a tricky one for Saint Anselm senior goaltender Lindsey Brown (Mounds View, Minn.), as the Nor'easters' Richelle Skarbowski entered a rolling puck from outside the right circle to the front right of the crease, where Corrales tucked it away.
Saint Anselm would regroup during the second intermission and retake control of the game midway through the third period. Herron notched her fourth game-winner of the year at the 8:41 mark, taking a pass from junior Sarah Geisinger (Willoughby, Ohio) and streaking up the left side. With a wrister just inside the left circle, Herron scored her 11th goal of the season just over the right shoulder of Nor'easter goaltender Sydney Helmbrecht to put the Hawks up 2-1.
Saint Anselm converted on its third power play chance of the evening just over five minutes later as a slew of consecutive saved shots from Nicholson, senior Sabrina Iannetti (Lynn, Mass.) and junior Alex Kazmer (Crystal Lake, Ill.) resulted in a goal for the latter, netting her fifth of the season.
Finally, sophomore Alison Quinn (Canton, Mass.) scored an empty net wrap-around goal in the waning minutes of the game, carrying it over both blue lines after receiving a pass from freshman Jackie Guy (Saint Louis, Mo.) off a faceoff in the UNE offensive zone.
Brown, who entered Saturday's contest at the national leader in save percentage and goals-against average among Division II/III goaltenders, picked up another win and improved to 10-0-1 overall with six saves. UNE's Helmbrecht recorded a game-high 50 saves while taking the losing decision.
Saint Anselm will play its final three games of the regular season at Sullivan Arena, but will first travel to Saint Michael's Friday for a matchup slated to start at 4:40 p.m. Saturday, the Hawks will return home for a non-conference matchup against Holy Cross, marking the third time the two teams will meet this season.