By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Last weekend, the Providence College Women’s Hockey Team hosted the Merrimack College Warriors in a best two-out-of-three games series at Schneider Arena for the Women’s Hockey East Quarterfinals. On Friday, March 1 the Friars skated to a 2-0 win against the Warriors.
The team found the back of the net late into the game with Meaghan Rickard ’20 notching the first goal of the series almost halfway through the third period. Rickard was able to easily put the puck in the net after passes from Chloe Gonsalves ’21 and Maureen Murphy ’21.
“Meg has been very effective this year due to her skating ability and puck movement,” said Head Coach Matt Kelly on Rickard’s game-winner. “She’s been a player that we’ve been able to use in all situations. She also has the ability to play with many different players which was a huge asset early in the year.”
Following Rickard’s goal, Christina Putigna ’19 buried an unassisted empty-netter goal to close out the game and give the Friars the series lead. Goalie Maddie Myers ’19 grabbed her sixth shutout of the season after making 17 saves. Their first win in the series improved the Friars’ overall season record at the time to 23-10-2, which is their most wins since the 2002-2003 season.
The following day, the Friars were able to sweep the series with a 2-1 win. Neve Van Pelt ’20 put the Friars on the scoreboard first after snagging a rebound off of Emily Landry’s ’19 shot in the final five minutes of the first period. Midway through a physical second period, Murphy tapped in a pass from Sara Hjalmarsson ’22 for a power play goal to give the Friars a 2-0 lead. It was Murphy’s 22nd goal of the season.
Reducing the Warriors to just three shots on the net the entire third period, Myers was unable to control the puck during a scrum in front of the net and Merrimack was able to grab their only goal of the series in the final 30 seconds of play.
Despite letting up a goal in the last few seconds of the game, Myers was just named Women’s Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week due to her 40 saves over the course of the two games. Myers is also the only active goaltender with more than one perfect sheet in the Women’s Hockey East Association (WHEA)Tournament. Along with Myers, Murphy also gained Hockey East recognition as a Top Performer due to her recorded goal and assist.
With their sweep against Merrimack, for the first time since 2013, the Friars will be advancing to the Hockey East Championship weekend.
PC will face-off against #1 Northeastern University in the Semifinal round this Saturday at Schneider. Northeastern will be looking to go back to the championship game for their third time. As mentioned, this will be PC’s first time making it to the semifinals since 2013 and while they won the tournament’s first three titles in WHEA history, they have not made it to the championship round since 2005.
Northeastern University, who finished their season 25-5-5, have defeated the Friars two out of the three times they met this season. Going into the tournament, PC will need to keep up their solid defensive play from the quarterfinals series and find the net quickly and often. The game against the Huskies will truly be a battle of the goalies as both Myers and Northeastern’s Aerin Frankel are top two goalies in terms of winning percentages (Frankel’s is .820 percent and Myers’s is .706 percent).
Maureen Murphy will also be looked upon to get the Friars into the championship game as she not only leads the Friars in goal-scoring, but is also third in Hockey East with 22 goals overall. She edges out Northeastern’s top-scorer by two goals. However, Northeastern is the leading scoring offensive team in Hockey East (PC is fourth) and PC is the leading defensive scoring team (Northeastern is third).
If the Friars are able to skate to a win against the Huskies, they will be set to play in the championship game Sunday, March 10 against the winner of the Boston College vs. Boston University game at Schneider Arena.