CANTON, N.Y. -- Marie-Eve Jean (Gatineau, Quebec) recorded 27 saves but the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team was defeated 4-2 by St. Lawrence University in Friday night's season opener at Appleton Arena.
Rylee Smith led the Saints' offense, which scored on 2 of 7 power plays, with two goals and an assist. Mel Desrochers tallied a goal and an assist while Dayle Wilkinson also had multiple points with two assists. Carmen MacDonald earned the win by stopping 14 of 16 shots in two periods. Giulla Mazzocchi played the third period and turned aside all five shots she faced.
SLU quickly turned a scoreless game into a 2-0 first-period lead on goals 17 seconds apart by Kailee Heidersbach and Smith at 9:47 and 10:04, respectively.
The Wildcats went on the power play 30 seconds into the second stanza and scored 27 seconds later to pull within 2-1. Sara Carlson (Hutchinson, Minn.) initiated the scoring sequence with a pass from the left corner to the near circle for Jessica Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario), who sent the puck across the low slot and Gifford tipped it into an open right side of the net.
In the sixth minute, Lascelle led a 2-on-1 break down the left wing and fired a shot from the faceoff dot high over the near post.
SLU began a power play at 6:43 and capitalized on the skater advantage to reestablish a two-goal lead of 3-1 at 7:33. Smith sidestepped a UNH skater at the right point and her low shot eluded Jean, who was screened by Smith's teammate at the top of the crease.
With a Saint in the penalty box for hooking, Heather Kashman (Edmonton, Alberta) beat MacDonald but Kirsten Padalis blocked the puck from going into the net and then Hitchcock's shot off the rebound was stopped by MacDonald. The Wildcats sustained pressure in the offensive zone, but shots by Kashman and Kate Haslett (Rothesay, New Brunswick) were off target.
In the 12th minute, Cassandra Vilgrain (Calgary, Alberta) led a 3-on-2 odd-man rush on the left wing and her blast from the circle was stopped by MacDonald, who quickly slid across the crease to deny the rebound attempt at the right post.
The Saints netted another power-play goal when Mel Desrochers' blast from the right point sailed into the cage to give the home team a 4-1 lead at 14:44. Smith was credited with an assist.
UNH capitalized on an SLU turnover to trim the deficit to 4-2 at 17:22. Kayla Mork (Victoria, Minn.) picked up the loose puck in the slot and fed a pass low to Lascelle, who scored at the front doorstep.
The 'Cats opened the third period with 1:54 remaining on a roughing penalty and they were shorthanded again with a tripping penalty at 2:41. UNH finally tested Mazzocchi with shots by Vilgrain and Lascelle nearing the midway point of the final frame, but the goalie turned aside both chances.
Haslett nearly lifted UNH within one goal when her shot rang off the post in the 14th minute. Jean then kept the 'Cats within striking distance with saves against both Desrochers and Abbey McRae. SLU went on another power play at 14:41 and Jean made stops against McRaie and Alex Moore while her team was shorthanded, then recorded two more saves against Jenna Marks after the Wildcats returned to full strength.
Jean was pulled in favor of an extra skater with 1:23 remaining in regulation. UNH sustained offensive pressure, but Mazzochi stoned both Arielle O'Neill (St Catharines, Ontario) and Carlson in the closing minute to protect the lead.
SLU finished the game with a 31-21 shot advantage that included 10-5 in the third period.
UNH and St. Lawrence conclude the two-game series Sept. 28 (3 p.m.) at Appleton Arena. The Wildcats' home opener is Oct. 4 (7 p.m.) against RIT.