The No. 7/8 Northeastern Huskies fell to No. 7/8 Connecticut in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, 4-1 at Matthews Arena on Saturday afternoon. The other Huskies built a three-goal lead in the first period and never looked back, adding a fourth in the second before freshman Kelly Wallace pulled one back for Northeastern. Junior Leah Sulyma and sophomore Florence Schelling split time in net for NU and combined for 17 saves.
With the defeat, the Huskies were eliminated from the Hockey East playoffs. The selection show for the 2010 NCAA Tournament will take place on March 7 at 6:30 p.m., at which time Northeastern will learn whether it will be included in the eight-team field.
Connecticut scored three times in a span of 1:25 to open up a big lead in the first period. Kelly Horan lit the lamp at 5:57 after driving wide along the left boards and cutting hard to the net. Her initial attempt was paddled away by Sulyma, but Horan was able to collect the rebound and poke it through the pads of the Northeastern goaltender to put UConn ahead. Brittany Murphy then scored 10 seconds later off a beautiful backhand feed from Tiffany Good at the left of the cage. Lisa Stathopulos promptly added another with a textbook redirection of a Rebecca Hewett shot to put UConn up 3-0 at the 7:22 mark.
The tally prompted the Huskies to make a goaltending change to swing the momentum. Schelling entered the game for the first time for Northeastern since Jan. 26, following her three-week Olympic stint with Team Switzerland.
Northeastern went on the attack to open the second period, but UConn netminder Alexandra Garcia stayed strong between the pipes. Garcia made two big stops in the early part of the frame, stoning freshman Rachel Llanes' attempt, before swatting away freshman Brittany Esposito's bid on the rebound.
The Huskies quickly went to the power play on a Jody Sydor holding penalty, but that did not deter Connecticut. A beautiful lob-pass from Cristin Allen landed on the stick of Amy Hollstein for a breakaway chance that Hollstein converted shorthanded for a 4-0 lead at 4:03.
Northeastern struck back at 6:32 off a scramble in front of the UConn net. In the waning seconds of another power play, senior Katy Applin threw a shot into traffic from the left point, which was redirected on goal by junior Kristi Kehoe. Garcia let the rebound fall in front of the net, but recovered her position to stop Wallace and Kehoe on the rebound. On the fourth chance, Wallace was able to shove the puck across the goal line to put Northeastern on the board one second after the power play had expired. Kehoe's assist was her 26th point of the season, a new single-season high for the Bakersfield, Calif. native.
Neither team generated much offense in the third period as each squad threw five shots at the opposing net. Schelling finished the game with 14 saves on 15 shots, while Garcia turned away 20 of 21. Esposito and Applin led the Huskies with five shots on goal apiece.