STORRS, Conn. – Four Huskies lit the lamp and Annie Belanger made 36 saves in a 4-1 victory for the UConn women’s hockey team over Providence on Sunday afternoon at Freitas Ice Forum. The victory seals a weekend split with PC, with the regular season series ending at an even 1-1-1 after three league contests. The Huskies move to 7-14-6 overall and 3-8-3 in Hockey East with the win, while the Fariars drop to 6-16-4 and 5-8-1 in league play.
Belanger (Sherbrooke, Quebec) stopped 36 of the 37 shots she faced, backstopping the Huskies to two league points. Emily Snodgrass (Eagan, Minn.) scored the game’s first goal as part of a two-point outing, and Kelly Harris (Canton, Mich.), Sarah MacDonnell (Quispamsis, New Brunswick) and Margaret Zimmer (St. Charles, Ill.) each found the back of the net as well.
Providence held a 37-18 advantage in shots on goal for the contest, receiving 14 saves from Allie Morse and a goal from Brooke Simpson in the setback. The Friars held a slight 36-32 advantage in the faceoff dot, and the Huskies blocked 13 shots compared to three for PC. UConn went 1-for-4 on the power play and held Providence 0-for-7 with the advantage.
Snodgrass got the scoring started early, striking for the game’s first goal at 3:04 of the first period. After forcing a Providence turnover behind the PC goal, the senior wheeled around to the front of the cage and snuck a shot far post for her team-high 14th goal of the season. That mark signifies the most goals in a single-season for a UConn skater since Michelle Binning recorded 20 in 2009-10.
A series of three penalties led to a set of three power play opportunities midway through the first, but PC couldn’t connect on its two advantages and UConn didn’t convert during an abbreviated chance. The Huskies returned to the power play for the final 52 seconds of the opening stanza and couldn’t connect, but took their 1-0 lead to the first intermission despite only taking one shot on goal in the period.
UConn doubled its lead at 11:17 of the second with Zimmer’s fifth goal of the year. Cassandra Opela (Penfield, N.Y.) ripped a shot from the point towards goal, before Rachel Farrel (Cheshire, Conn.) deflected the bid towards the stick of Zimmer on the doorstep for a one-time blast that gave Connecticut a 2-0 lead.
The Friars answered back to make it a one-goal game again barely than a minute later, when Simpson scored her sixth of the year off a scramble in front at 12:18 to cut the lead back to 2-1. After killing off PC’s fourth power play of the year, the Huskies again made a two-goal game with MacDonnell’s sixth of the year. Snodgrass won a battle behind the cage and sent a centering pass in front, where the UConn captain was waiting and ripped home a shot at 17:36 to make it 3-1 Connecticut.
The Huskies took to the power play 18 seconds into the third period and used the advantage to pick up their fourth goal of the game. Theresa Knutson (Onalaska, Wis.) forced a turnover in the PC end and walked in alone for a shot that was saved, but Harris crashed to bury the rebound and make it a three-goal game at 1:38 of the third.
A pair of UConn penalties gave Providence more than a minute of a 5-on-3 advantage before the midway point of third, but the Huskies secured both kills thanks in part to a series of blocked shots by Caitlin Hewes (Stillwater, Minn.). The Huskies denied Providence on yet another power play in the latter stages of the contest, capping a perfect 7-for-7 performance on the PK and sealing the 4-1 victory.
Up next, the Huskies continue Hockey East play when they host No. 7 Boston University on Saturday, Jan. 31. Puck drop for UConn’s annual ‘Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer’ game at Freitas Ice Forum is set for 3 p.m.