Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Alyssa Gorecki had two goals and Saana Valkama and Ève-Audrey Picardnotched three points apiece as the Vermont women’s hockey team defeated Providence 5-2 on Sunday at Schneider Arena in Game 3 of the Hockey East Quarterfinals. The win earns the Catamounts their second trip to the Hockey East Semifinals in program history and first since 2014.
The Green and Gold will match up with top-seeded Boston College in the conference semifinals on Saturday, March 4 in a game played at 1:30 p.m. from Walter Brown Arena in Boston.
The Game 3 result against Providence also completed a series comeback for UVM, which initially trailed 1-0 in the best-of-three quarterfinal. The Catamounts now sit at 15-13-9 on the season, while the Friars wrap up the campaign at 17-17-3.
“Today was really the culmination of building our season,” said head coach Jim Plumer. “So many key components came together. I feel like all of the overtimes prepared us for this moment. Our seniors led this team and they deserve this opportunity to advance. Madison Litchfield was outstanding in net all weekend and we got timely scoring. Picard, Valkama and Gorecki all had huge weekends. I’m excited to head to Boston next weekend and keep the momentum going.”
Litchfield collected 25 saves on the day while Providence’s Madison Myers totaled 26 stops.
The Catamounts built sustained pressure in the first period and as a result, returned to the locker room with a 3-0 lead in hand. Gorecki put the Catamounts on the board at the 10:13 mark of the first period with her 11th goal of the season and second of the playoffs. She buried a centering pass from Victoria Andreakos after she collected a loose puck in the left corner.
Vermont needed just 28 seconds to double its lead, doing so on a power play tally from Picard. Valkama forced a Providence turnover in the offensive zone and quickly found Picard on a one-time feed down low.
In the closing seconds of the period, UVM used the man advantage again to move the score to 3-0. Taylor Willard passed to Picard in the right circle, where she collected her own rebound and ripped a second shot on Myers. Despite being turned aside on both occasions, Valkama followed up on the doorstep and tucked the puck home.
Gorecki added her second of the day just under six minutes into the middle stanza. With less than 20 seconds remaining on a power play, Daria O’Neill sent a shot into traffic that was blocked, but came to Gorecki. She finished the opportunity at 5:59 for her 12th goal of the season.
Providence managed to cut the Catamounts’ lead in half by the midway point of the final period. Cassidy Carels set up Rachel Rockwell at 8:23 of the second period and Kate Friesen scored at the 10:57 mark of the third. Lauren Klein and Carels received the assists on the second goal.
Picard then vaulted Vermont into celebration with an empty-netter which came with 2:25 remaining in regulation. Following a Providence timeout with 2:34 on the clock, Valkama came away with the puck in the aftermath of a defensive zone faceoff. She bounced the puck off the right wing boards and found Picard at the blue line, where she skated into the offensive zone and sealed the series from the top of the right circle.
UVM outshot the Friars 31-27 on the day, including by a 10-6 margin in the third period. The Catamounts finished the contest 3-for-6 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Picard (16-for-25) and Bridget Baker (14-for-22) led Vermont on the faceoff dot.
Fans can purchase tickets for the Hockey East Semifinals in advance via Ticketmaster or by calling (800) 745-3000.