PROVIDENCE, R.I. – History was made at Schneider Arena this weekend, as the UConn women’s ice hockey team became the first seven-seed to ever advance to the semifinals of the Hockey East Tournament with a 2-1 win over the second-seed Providence in a decisive game three on Sunday afternoon.
Freshman Natalie Snodgrass scored both goals in the third period for the Huskies (15-13-9), sending them to their eighth all-time semifinals. Senior goalie Annie Belanger made 30 saves in the win, which completed UConn’s comeback from a 1-0 deficit in the series.
“We’re super excited to come out on top and advance in our tournament. Hats off to Providence, they gave us everything we could handle,” said head coach Chris MacKenzie. “They scored first, but we bounced back right away which was a great sign.”
The Huskies lost the opening game of the series on Friday, 4-0, before recovering with 3-0 and 2-1 wins, respectively, to knock-off the Friars – who entered the weekend ranked No. 10 in the country.
“We were able to cash-in on penalties late in the game today…we’re looking forward to playing next weekend and keeping our season going,” said MacKenzie.
A scoreless tie for nearly 50 minutes of regulation, Providence struck first at 9:39 of the third period when Blair Parent redirected a shot from Whitney Dove that snuck past Belanger to make it 1-0.
However, just 11 seconds later, UConn answered with a goal of its own. Snodgrass, the team’s leading scorer this season (17-16-33), cut through the middle and buried a shot off a feed from sophomore Catherine Crawley to tie the game.
“Coming into the game, we all knew the significance of it. I think in the first period, we got our nerves out, and we knew if they scored first, we had to answer back,” said Snodgrass. “To do this with the team in front of our parents, it’s a great feeling.”
About eight minutes later, the Huskies found themselves with a 5-on-3 advantage after slashing and hooking penalties on Providence, which came one minute apart. The Friars called a timeout to set up the defense.
At 17:25, Snodgrass netted the game-winner with a shot fired past Providence goalie Madison Myers, off passes from freshman Morgan Wabick and sophomore Briana Colangelo. The Huskies went 1-for-4 on power plays, but cashed in at the biggest moment for a 2-1 advantage.
— UConn Women's Hockey (@UConnWHOC) February 25, 2018
“We just had to keep going. We’ve had ups and downs this year, one goal isn’t going to phase us at this point. And we showed it right away,” said Belanger. “Our whole careers have prepared us for this.”
Shots for the game were tied, 31-31, as was much of the play throughout, but UConn committed just one penalty in the game for too many players – limiting shorthanded defensive scenarios.
It is the third trip to the semifinals in the past four years for the Huskies under MacKenzie, as UConn advanced in both 2014-15 and 2015-16. UConn has advanced to two championship games in program history.
No. 7 UConn will take on top-seeded Boston College on Saturday, March 3 at historic Matthews Arena, with puck drop at either 1:30 or 4:30 p.m. NESNplus will provide coverage of the second semifinal, with the first being shown on a tape delay at 10 p.m.
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