The inaugural Women's Hockey IceBreaker tournament brought together representatives from four Division I conferences this past weekend at Harborcenter in Buffalo, New York. Minnesota-Duluth won both of their games, beating Mercyhurst on Friday night and Colgate on Saturday, to capture the tournament title.
Friday: Mercyhurst vs. Minnesota-Duluth; Colgate vs. Connecticut
The Bulldogs beat the Lakers 4-1, despite going 0-for-7 on the power play. It was a fairly even game to begin, but a slew of penalties on either side shifted the momentum as the game went on.
Sarah Nelles put the Lakers on the board first with a power-play goal halfway through the opening period. The Bulldogs already had a player in the box on a body-checking call, and were on a delayed penalty call when Mercyhurst went ahead.
More penalties ensued as the period went on, but the Bulldogs did find a response late in the opening frame. Gabbie Hughes got the puck up high after netminder Kennedy Blair went down, and tied the game at one to give Minnesota-Duluth a boost heading into the intermission.
Hughes would add another goal in the second period, again on a delayed penalty call. Kausandra Betinol made it 3-1 later in the middle frame, with her team in the midst of a line change. The Bulldogs put forth a much stronger effort in the second period after being outshot 18-7 in the first.
Despite more penalties on both sides, the Bulldogs held on. Anneke Linser added an empty-net goal in the final minutes of regulation, and the Lakers dropped the 3-1 decision.
"It was really fun to have a flying trip, to get out here," Hughes said. "A good bonding trip as well."
Hughes credited her linemates for her success in both Friday and Saturday's games.
Friday's later game saw Colgate and Connecticut square off.
Colgate dominated play early on, and it paid off when Kendall Williamson scored her first goal of the season on the team's fourth shot of the game. The team took a 2-0 lead later in the period; Allyson Simpson shot a blast from the point that made its way through a crowd and hit the back of the net.
Danika Pasqua struck early in the second period to halve Colgate's lead, but the Raiders responded with a tally from Darcie Lappan on just their eighth shot of the game. Malia Schneider regained the three-goal lead for Colgate in the third period, and Eleri MacKay added an empty-net goal in the final minutes. Danielle Serdachny also scored late for Colgate.
Tristyn Svetek scored the other goal for Connecticut in the 6-2 game.
Saturday: Connecticut vs. Mercyhurst, UMD vs. Colgate
Saturday's games featured the losing teams from Friday facing off first.
The opening period between Mercyhurst and Connecticut was pretty evenly-matched, with shots 6-4 in favor of the Lakers after twenty minutes. Mercyhurst took a quick lead early in the second period, as Emma Nuutinen scored her fifth goal of the season.
When Connecticut found themselves on the power play midway through the period, they wasted no time tying the game up on a goal by Morgan Wabick. As the minutes ticked off on the clock, the game remained even-keeled, and it was an uneventful beginning to the third period.
Summer-Rae Dobson changed all that, giving the Lakers as 2-1 lead with just 7:36 to play in regulation. Mercyhurst then appeared to score again just 21 seconds later, but upon review, it was deemed no goal.
They did, however, really take a 3-1 lead a short time later on a goal from Liliane Perreault. Despite a late penalty kill, Mercyhurst hung on for the victory and took third place in the IceBreaker.
"I think our team really played hard," said Lakers junior forward Alexa Vasko. "We played with a lot of energy, and it was nice to get a win with the final game."
The IceBreaker tournament also gave players the opportunity to face off against opponents that they may not normally see over the course of a season.
"It's nice to play Minnesota-Duluth," Vasko said. "We've never played them. Even UConn, we've never played them as well. It's nice to get a taste of those different leagues that we don't really play that much."
To finish off the weekend, UMD and Colgate squared off in Saturday's evening game. The Raiders had the momentum going in their favor early, including a short period where they put eight shots on net. But it would be UMD taking a 1-0 lead on Hughes' third goal of the weekend, with under four minutes to play in the first period.
Betinol doubled her team's lead on a beautiful goal in the second period, shooting the puck into the top corner of the net past Liz Auby. Through half of the game, the Bulldogs had already recorded 17 shots on net.
Things got interesting in the final 10-ish minutes of play. Darcie Lappan recorded her third goal of the season to cut UMD's lead in half on a play that was reviewed and deemed a goal.
Then, with just 1:12 to play, Colgate pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker before finding themselves on the power play, with a 6-on-4 advantage.
The Bulldogs, however, quickly secured the empty-net goal from Ashton Bell, who sent the puck nearly the length of the ice and in. With that, UMD recorded a 3-1 victory and won the inaugural IceBreaker tournament.
"It was one of our hardest games so far," said Colgate freshman forward Sammy Smigliani. "Even though we didn't get the outcome we wanted, I think we showed that we can play with anyone. I'm really excited for league [play] to start, and to see how we do there."
UMD goalie Maddie Rooney, who recorded 50 saves over the weekend, was named to the All-Tournament Team.
"It was super fun to be able to play these out-east teams that I haven't played in my college career," Rooney said. "I thought they gave us a really tough battle and it was awesome to see us come out with two wins and battle each game until the end."
"I go into every game just kind of expecting the unexpected, just as a goalie mindset," Rooney said. "As a team, I thought each team brought different challenges for us. I thought we overcame them well and adapted."
Hughes (3 goals) and Betinol (2 goals) also earned honors. Smigliani (Colgate) and Rachel Marmen (Mercyhurst) rounded out the All-Tournament Team.
About 200 people attended Saturday night's game between Colgate and Minnesota-Duluth.