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Huskies Advance to Nutmeg Title Game

UConn advances to championship game for first time since 2009 (PC: Alex Serbetzian).
Nov. 24, 2017

Final Stats


STORRS, Conn. – When freshman Natalie Snodgrass circled the puck at center ice on Friday night, all eyes were on her – and the first-year player for the UConn women’s ice hockey team delivered.

Snodgrass scored the deciding goal in a thrilling shootout against Penn State, helping the Huskies (4-5-5) advance to the Nutmeg Classic championship game on Saturday night against Quinnipiac.

Senior Leah Lum also scored in the shootout for UConn, giving the home team a 2-1 edge over the Nittany Lions after 65 minutes of action resulted in a 1-1 tie. For the Huskies, it is their first time advancing to the Nutmeg Classic title game since 2009.

“My nerves were really going, I’m not going to lie,” joked Snodgrass. “The (Penn State) goalie was really aggressive for the other girls, so I knew I had to make a move…it worked out in my favor.”

In addition to conversions from Lum and Snodgrass, senior goalie Annie Belanger fought off three Penn State shootout attempts – making two saves and forcing a wide shot – adding to her 27-save performance on the night.

“Our goaltending and defense as a whole was real solid. Anytime you hold someone to under 30 shots, you’re pretty happy with that,” said head coach Chris MacKenzie. “For me, it was a total team effort. It was an exciting game to watch.”

Before the shootout, the Huskies and Nittany Lions were deadlocked throughout the game – exchanging offensive chances at every turn. Neither team capitalized on power plays, as both combined to go 0-for-3 in the contest.

When it came to the most important penalty, however, senior Theresa Knutson made it count. Trailing 1-0 in the second period, UConn earned a penalty shot after Knutson had a breakaway and was ripped down from behind by Penn State’s Morgan Rolph.

As a result of the tripping penalty, Knutson buried her shot past goalie Hannah Ehresmann – her fourth of the season – to tie the game at the 11:59 mark of the second.

“I just tried to keep it as simple as possible because there isn’t always a science behind scoring goals,” said Knutson. “I took a deep breath and thought if it goes in, great, if not, Coach (MacKenzie) will be mad.”

Each team had good scoring chances in the third period, with Snodgrass leading the way with a game-high six shots on net. At the same time, UConn’s defense held firm after Penn State’s only goal – a finish by Katie McMillan in front of the net – with one second remaining in the first period.

“It was a hard-fought game between two disciplined teams. They got up early, but we really pushed back in the second,” said MacKenzie. “We caught a break with the penalty shot and Theresa put it away. It was hotly-contested and we were fortunate to come out on top.”

UConn faces Quinnipiac at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum on Saturday night, with puck drops scheduled for 6 p.m. A win would be UConn’s fifth all-time Nutmeg Classic title. Yale and Penn State will play in the consolation game at 3 p.m.

“We have to play the way we want to play. Quinnipiac is known to be a physical team and they will force you to make mistakes – they played a disciplined game,” said MacKenzie. “We are going to try to do the same thing…we will do our best as always and represent our school proudly.”


 

 

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