Women’s Hockey: Ali O’Leary Lifts Women’s Hockey Over UConn, 1-0

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

BURLINGTON – Ali O’Leary broke a scoreless deadlock 3:18 into the third period as the Vermont Catamounts defeated the Connecticut Huskies 1-0 in front of 1,876 fans in the Fifth Annual Pack the Gut Challenge, presented by The Windjammer.

UVM improves to 10-17-4 and 7-12-3 in Hockey East play and takes a two-point lead on the Huskies in the standings. With the loss, UConn falls to 11-12-8 and 5-11-5 in conference play.

“This was a real gut check for us and I am very proud of our team for digging down and finding a way to finish this game off,” head coach Jim Plumer said. “Sydney Scobee was spectacular and we were finally able to solve their excellent goalie Belanger. It was a fantastic night in Gutterson to feel the energy of the crowd and I want to thank all those who came out to support us. UConn is an excellent team and we have to be ready for a big battle again tomorrow.”

Scobee made 12 saves and Annie Belanger stopped 10 shots in a back-and-forth first period that ended scoreless. Scobee made several strong saves throughout the period, notably during UConn’s lone power play chance.

O’Leary rang iron with a shot with 7:12 left in the period in Vermont’s best chance of the opening period. Despite multiple shots on goal, UVM could not capitalize on an extended power play chance that included 38 seconds of 5-on-3 play.

Neither team broke the scoreless deadlock in the middle period as UVM held a 15-13 shot advantage in the frame. Vermont had three power play chances in the second but could not get back Belanger and the Huskies PK unit.

Scobee stopped all 13 UConn shots in the second period to bring her total to 25 saves through two periods. She stood tall for several stops, especially during a delayed penalty call against the Catamounts in the final minute of the period.

Alyssa Holmes brought the puck into the Huskies zone and moved towards the slot with just over three minutes gone in the third. She dropped the puck back to O’Leary, who ripped a shot to the top right corner of the net and over Belanger’s glove to break the tie. Amanda Drobot picked up the secondary assist on the goal.

Vermont spent nearly 10 minutes of the third period shorthanded, killing the majority of a penalty called against Mackenzie MacNeil late in the second, and additional minors against Katherine Pate, MacNeil, Taylor Willard, and Sammy Kolowrat.

Holmes nearly doubled Vermont’s lead with 2:40 remaining but her shot from the slot off a feed from Ève-Audrey Picard went wide.

The Huskies pulled Belanger for the extra attacker with 1:53 remaining in regulation. Kristina Shanahan. Alyssa Gorecki, and Kourtney Menchesblocked shots and Scobee made multiple saves in the final seconds to preserve the shutout and 1-0 Vermont win.

Scobee ended the night with 41 saves and the shutout. It is the fourth time this season Scobee has recorded 40 or more saves and first time it has come in a Vermont victory.

With the victory, the Cats Win, Community Wins campaign and Vermont Mutual Insurance Group will donate another $100 to the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington, bringing this year’s total to 94 wins and $9,400.

Vermont and Connecticut take the ice tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. in the final regular season home game at Gutterson Fieldhouse. The University of Vermont will honor the five members of the Class of 2018 prior to the game.