Women's ice hockey rallies to tie before losing late to D-I Holy Cross, 3-2

WORCESTER, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College women's ice hockey team rallied from two goals down to stand tied with Division I College of the Holy Cross with fewer than two minutes remaining in regulation on Saturday evening before falling, 3-2, during Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East action in the Hart Center.

The Purple Knights, who threatened to earn their first tie or win in the series since the teams began playing in 2001, are 1-7 overall and the league, while the Crusaders improved to 6-2-1 and 4-2-1.

Senior Allison Graf (Long Lake, Minn./Minnesota Thoroughbreds) and sophomore Fernanda Saavedra (Miami, Fla./Pittsburgh Penguins Elite), both defensemen, scored during a 5:30 stretch of the third period to knot the game. Senior Erin Stevens (Watertown, Conn./Connecticut Polar Bears) posted 41 stops.

Senior Alex Campione (Townsend, Mass./Pomfret Academy) and sophomore Rachel Miller (Jackson, Mich./Lumen Christi) both had a goal and an assist for Holy Cross, and sophomore Rebecca Fleming (Newton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall) also tallied. Classmate Krista Manzanares (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Tabor Academy) collected three saves.

The Crusaders led 1-0 heading into the third period before Fleming tallied after just 32 seconds to pad her team's advantage. Saint Michael's regrouped with opportunistic offense, first breaking on the board at 6:21 when Saavedra deposited her squad's fourth shot of the game. Senior Melissa Hallisey (Dedham, Mass./Dedham) and junior Macey Thomas (Amherst, Mass./Northfield Mount Hermon) assisted.

Stevens posted four saves in the ensuing five-plus minutes before Graf sent the Purple Knights' fifth shot of the game home at 11:51 for the tying marker. Sophomore Kristen Spulecki (Orchard Park, N.Y./Buffalo Bison) earned the assist. Stevens denied the next seven shots, including four during a Holy Cross power play that ultimately resulted in Miller scoring with 1:48 remaining in regulation. Thomas later had a pair of tying attempts go wide of the cage, including one after Saint Michael's pulled Stevens with 35 seconds remaining, as the visitors were unable to find another equalizer.

Holy Cross took all 13 shots of the opening period, and Stevens stopped each, including two during a power play in the opening three minutes of the contest. She made 13 more saves in the second period while helping the Purple Knights kill off two Crusader power plays but, in a scoreless game, Campione tallied at 15:27 to put her team ahead.

The Purple Knights break from ECAC East play with a pair of contests next weekend at the State University of New York at Potsdam. The teams face off for the opening on Friday at 3 p.m.