Two ties for women’s hockey

Marco Cicchino, Staff writer

Another first career goal from a Laker freshman turned out to be the equalizer on Nov. 10, with two more freshman assists and a sophomore goal in a quick rally leading to a 4-all draw with the 7th-ranked Cornell University Big Red at Mercyhurst Ice Center.

The following day, the two squads regrouped to play immaculate defense in another scoreless affair.

On Nov. 10, the scene was set after Laker Sarah McDonnell had been chased after three Big Red tallies in the first 12:44 of the second period. After the visitors won four straight faceoffs after the 16:11 mark of the second period, the Lakers’ Alexa Vasko won the ensuing draw before redirecting a shot from teammates Morgan Stacey via Liliane Perreault with 2:49 remaining to cut the hosts’ deficit to two. Then, after killing off a hooking call on Laker goalie Vilma Tanskanen at 6:17 of the third, Perreault was at it again, this time combining with Molly Blasen to allow Sarah Hine to navigate her shot and catch Big Red goalie Lindsay Browning over her left shoulder.

Hine then won the next draw against the Big Red’s Maddie Mills and used assists from Lakers Mary Katherine Gialames and Summer-Rae Dobson to find the equalizer and her second tally in a span of only 1:11. But this was only a prelude of what had yet to occur, as Hine and Kyra Thiessen allowed Gialames to fire her first career goal from the right point at 12:18, sending the Ice Center into a frenzy.

The Big Red (4-1-2) needed a scoreless first period with a two-shot deficit to regain their bearings.

The Big Red came out strong after intermission, with Paige Lewis and Lenka Serdar to find Pippy Gerace off a wide shot from the Lakers’ Vasko at 2:51. Just three minutes later off a faceoff win by Hine, Cornell’s Grace Graham was booked for cross-checking, but a wide shot by Laker Rachel Marmen handed Lewis her second assist in as many tallies. Marmen found Mills with three seconds left on the penalty kill.

And just as the Lakers’ offense began to bloom, rattling off five shots after the tally in a 4:09 span, Laker Megan Korzack was booked for the second cross-check of the period. From here, Mills needed just 31 seconds to hold the nation’s 12th-worst penalty kill to form and chase McDonnell after making just five saves in nearly 33 minutes. However, Mills was a much more gracious benefactor of the Laker netminder.

“I just tried to shoot the puck whenever I got an opportunity,” Mills said of McDonnell. “She played a great game. I just got lucky.”

However, the Lakers’ Blasen was booked for a cross-check just 20 seconds after Gialames’ tally, allowing the Big Red’s Willow Slobodzian and Mills to find Serdar before she sent a hard-angle shot from the left of a returning Kennedy Blair into the left side of the net. Blair (0-3-1, 4.53) had been sidelined since Oct. 5, and made five saves on Saturday night.

But the Big Red’s Gillis Frechette was booked for hooking with 1:20 left in regulation, and Browning (0-0-1, 3.69) held her own, stopping Tanksanen at the end of regulation and making three saves in the latter moments of overtime. This came amid a flurry from the entire Laker line — one each of which was blocked by Mills, Graham and Sam Burke — to finish off a 27-save performance, the second time in three seasons the Lakers allowed at least four goals while outshooting their opponent by at least 2:1.

In the second draw of the weekend, the Nov. 11 Veterans Day matinee, the Lakers again had opportunities in overtime, including a high-sticking major on Lewis 1:05 into overtime, but the Big Red’s Marlene Boissonault (4-1-1, 1.65) made four 30 saves in the extra session and 23 of her 30 saves after the second period to preserve a scoreless draw. Laker Emily Pinto was booked for a body check just 5:15 into the contest, but the Big Red only managed one shot on the ensuing power play.

Frechette was booked for a trip nine minutes into the second period after only 11 combined shots were recorded in the first, a figure the Lakers would equal by themselves in the second and the Big Red in the third, but Boissonault was remanded by a fully regrouped McDonnell (6-2-1, 2.07), who made 18 saves of her own and 11 in the third. Serdar and Michele Robillard would draw offsetting interference penalties at 3:44 of the third, followed by a hooking minor on Frechette at 4:37, but Boissonault stopped all eight shots on the two penalty kills.

“We played hard this weekend against a very good team, and most importantly we didn’t quit, even if we were down by 3,” the Lakers’ Perreault said. “We kept working hard and came together as a team to get back in the game.”