ORONO, Maine – Rebecca Fleming scored in overtime to support a 45-save shutout from Elaine Chuli in a 1-0 victory for the UConn women’s hockey team in WHEA quarterfinal action at Maine (10-19-3) on Saturday afternoon at Alfond Arena. The victory clinched the quarterfinal series for the Huskies, 2-0, and lines UConn (11-17-8) up for its first trip to the WHEA Championship semifinals since 2010.
Fleming (Newton, Mass.) struck at 10:31 of the first extra frame after a scoreless regulation, taking assists from Reese Maccario (Marblehead, Mass.) and Margaret Zimmer (St. Charles, Ill.) for the game-winner. Chuli (Waterford, Ontario) backboned the Huskies with the 45-save blanking, her first shutout of the year and the third of her career. The 45 saves mark the second-most in a game in WHEA quarterfinal history and fourth-most in any WHEA Tournament game.
Maine out-shot UConn, 45-27, on the day and got a 26-save performance from Meghann Treacy. Neither team converted on a combined three power play opportunities, while the Huskies blocked 17 shots compared to 10 for the Black Bears.
Despite a flurry of chances for UConn late in the first period, the contest went to the first intermission with one score. Maine, aggressors early, held a 14-5 advantage in shots on goal in the opening stanza.
Kelly Harris (Canton, Mich.) flew in alone on a clean breakaway bid in the final two minutes of the second period, but her backhand attempt was stuffed by a lunging pad save from Treacy. The chance was the best for either side in the first two periods and the contest went to the third with no score.
UConn took to the power play for the first time at 3:12 of the third period, and Theresa Knutson (Onalaska, Wis.) had a good rip from the right circle saved as Maine secured its first kill of the series. The Black Bears had a golden opportunity around the nine-minute mark of the third when Cydnee Cook (Winnipeg, Manitoba) came up with a huge block on the goal line to keep the contest tied.
After a breakout following a block from Jessica Stott (Niverville, Manitoba) Harris and Knutson stormed in on the Maine net on a two-man rush before Knutson’s pass to Harris in the slot skipped off her stick and wide of the goal. In the final 30 seconds of the third Maine’s Hailey Browne broke in on goal after a turnover in the UConn end , but Chuli flashed her glove for a big save to send the contest to overtime.
Zimmer walked in alone for a booming slapshot about five minutes into overtime that was saved by Treacy. The junior was part of the game-winning play five minutes later, keeping the puck alive with a tap to Maccario near the point. After a feed back to Zimmer, Fleming took a cross-slot pass at the top of the right circle and snapped a shot over a lunging Treacy and into the back of the net top-shelf to send UConn to the semifinals.
UConn will next play on Saturday, March 7 in the league semifinals at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Memorial Rink in Hyannis, Mass. The Huskies, the lone lower-seeded team to advance in the WHEA Championship, will face top seed and No. 1 Boston College at 1:30 p.m. For ticket information and WHEA Championship details, click HERE.