November 17, 2012

Second two-goal rally falls short, Purple Knights fall to UMass Boston, 5-4

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's ice hockey team rallied from a two-goal deficit to grab the lead on Saturday before another comeback from a two-tally hole fell short during a 5-4 loss to the University of Massachusetts at Boston in Cairns Arena. The Purple Knights slipped to 1-5 overall and in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East, while the Beacons are 2-3-1 and 2-3-1. It marked the fourth straight one-goal affair in the series.

Sophomore Kristen Spulecki (Orchard Park, N.Y./Buffalo Bison) scored twice on the power play to lead the hosts, while senior Allison Graf (Long Lake, Minn./Minnesota Thoroughbreds) and junior Tracy Stevenson (Wayne, Maine/Kents Hill School) also tallied. Senior Erin Stevens (Watertown, Conn./Connecticut Polar Bears) made 36 saves to move into second in program history in career stops, as she is 18 short of Alysia Goldman's '11 school mark (1,823).

Sophomore Kayla Kiernan (North Smithfield, R.I./North Smithfield) recorded two goals and an assist for UMass Boston, while senior Emily LaRosa (Weymouth, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) and sophomores Emily Howard (Terryville, Conn./Kingswood-Oxford School) and Alyssa Sullivan (Medford, Mass./Arlington Catholic) also scored. Sophomore Kailyn Burke (Franklin, Mass./Franklin) made 27 saves.

The Beacons broke on the board with a pair of tallies in a 3:18 stretch of the opening period. Kiernan first went from forehand to backhand out front to deke Stevens at 7:30 before Stevens stopped an initial Kiernan shot a few minutes later, but Sullivan pounced on the rebound and potted her team's second goal, at the 10:48 mark. The Purple Knights had a pair of power-play chances in the final eight minutes, including when Spulecki found the back of the net with 1:21 remaining on a slap shot from the right point.

In the second stanza, the teams combined for seven goals, all of which came in the final 4:36. After the hosts killed off a 17-second UMass Boston 5-on-3 power play and the ensuing one-player advantage, during which Stevens made back-to-back right pad saves to keep the score 2-1, Stevenson fired a shot from the left boards that knotted the game at the 15:24 mark. Just 2:04 later, Graf's shot from the left point found the upper right-hand corner of the net, giving Saint Michael's a 3-2 edge. However, the Beacons countered when Howard skated into the zone and picked the upper right corner at 18:26, and LaRosa slipped a backhanded shot inside the left post with 45.3 seconds left.

In the third, Stevens denied Kiernan during a 2-on-1 break with four minutes gone before Kiernan made it 5-3 at 6:48. Just nine seconds removed from being released from the penalty box, Kiernan rushed into the zone and had a shot denied by Stevens, but she picked up the rebound and tallied. Late in the contest, Saint Michael's first-year Emily Loebs (Acton, Mass./Minuteman Lady Flames) had a power-play attempt knocked away by Burke, but Spulecki grabbed the puck near the left post and shot on an open net at 15:13. The Purple Knight pulled Stevens for the final 33 seconds, but their final shot, by junior Mary Liz Pinnella (Manasquan, N.J./New Jersey Lady Patriots), was turned aside.

The Purple Knights break until heading to Salve Regina University on Nov. 30 for a 7:30 p.m. contest to kick off a semester-ending four-game road trip.

The Edmundite Catholic Liberal Arts College