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HYANNIS, Mass. - For the first time since 2010, the UConn women's hockey team (11-17-8) will play in the Hockey East Championship Semifinals on Saturday afternoon. The fifth-seeded Huskies face a staunch test in top-seed and No. 1 Boston College (32-1-2) after both squads swept their respective WHEA Quarterfinal series last weekend. Puck drop from the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Memorial Rink at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center is set for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
UConn advanced to Hockey East's final four after sweeping a best-of-three quarterfinal series at four-seed Maine last weekend. In game one on Feb. 27, Kayla Campero (Wallingford, Conn.) and Sarah MacDonnell (Quispamsis, New Brunswick) each tallied on the power play to push the Huskies out to a 2-0 lead early in the third period. After the Black Bears cut the deficit to one, Justine Fredette (Winnipeg, Manitoba) scored the eventual game-winner in a 3-2 victory. In game two on Feb. 28, Elaine Chuli (Waterford, Ontario) turned in a masterful 45-save shutout performance in a contest that went through three regulation periods with no score. At 10:31 of the game's first overtime period, Rebecca Fleming (Newton, Mass.) ended the longest WHEA game of the season with a game-winning goal to send the Huskies to the semis.
The Huskies are currently riding a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1), the fourth-longest in the nation. UConn is powered offensively by its senior-laden top line of Campero, MacDonnell and Emily Snodgrass (Eagan, Minn.). MacDonnell tops the squad and is among the WHEA leaders with 30 points on the year, coming by way of 11 goals and 19 assists. Snodgrass is the top goal-scorer with 15 strikes and has 23 points this year, while Campero holds a 10-11-21 scoring ledger. All three have cracked the top-10 on the UConn all-time scoring list this season, with MacDonnell coming in at fifth (78 career points), Campero at ninth (71) and Snodgrass at 10th (69). Campero's 36 career goals are sixth in program history and MacDonnell is fifth all-time with 47 assists.
Other top scorers for the Huskies include Fleming, Kelly Harris (Canton, Mich.) and freshman Theresa Knutson (Onalaska, Wis.), who each have 14 points on the year with seven, eight and nine goals, respectively. Margaret Zimmer (St. Charles, Ill.) assisted on Fleming's OT game-winner in the quarterfinals and is one nine Huskies with double-digit points on the year, holding a 6g-4a-10p line. Rachel Farrel (Cheshire, Conn.) is among the UConn leaders with seven assists and freshman Reese Maccario (Marblehead, Mass.) also assisted on Fleming's OT winner.
Defensively, alternate captain Caitlin Hewes (Stillwater, Minn.) is fifth on the Huskies with 17 points this season and skateswith WHEA All-Rookie selection Leah Lum (Richmond, British Columbia) on UConn's top pairing. Lum is fourth on the squad with 19 points this year, coming via four goals and 15 assists, second on the squad. Cydnee Cook (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Jessica Stott (Niverville, Manitoba) are a formidable second defensive duo, with Cook dishing out five assists on the year. Each recorded key blocked shots down the stretch in the shutout at Maine last weekend.
Elaine Chuli (Waterford, Ontario) was recently named WHEA Goalie of the Month for February after picking up her fifth Defensive Player of the Week nod earlier this week. Chuli was marvelous in the quarterfinal series at Maine, posting a 0.92 GAA and .973 save percentage over the two contests. Among active goalies, Chuli leads the WHEA in save percentage in Hockey East Tournament play with a .944 mark. On the season, she is third in Hockey East and 20th nationally with a .922 save percentage. Freshman Annie Belanger (Sherbrooke, Quebec) has been solid in net as well, compiling a 2.65 GAA and .926 save percentage in 14 appearances.
UConn was swept by No. 1 Boston College in the regular season, falling in a home-and-home series on Nov. 21 and 22 before another setback at BC on Feb. 6. Maccario picked up her first career goal in the first contest with the Eagles. Last season, UConn picked up its marquee victory of 2014 when it topped then-No. 7 Boston College, 2-0, on Feb. 8 in Storrs. Chuli stopped 45 shots and Campero scoredone of the Husky goals in the upset. Connecticut and Boston College have never faced off in the postseason prior to this year.
Should the Huskies advance, they will meet the winner of two-seed Boston University and three-seed Northeastern on Sunday, March 8 at 1:30 p.m. The WHEA title game will be broadcasted live on NESN+.