With two of the youngest teams in the nation facing off, the weekend series between the Black Bears of Maine and the Dutchwomen of Union was sure to be a showcase of NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey future. Coming off the 2-1 victory over Union yesterday afternoon, the Black Bears started off a little sluggish, allowing the Dutchwomen to control the first five minutes of the first period, with a shots on goal lead of 6-3.
The rest of the way was all about the youth and firepower of the Black Bears, with the remainder the game being controlled offensively by Maine. The Black Bears outshot the Dutchwomen 34-23, but in the end, it was once again the Tereza Vanisova show for Maine. The standout freshman had another three-point afternoon, with two goals and an assist, bringing her season point total to 12-10-22. Vanisova, a native of the Czech Republic, now trails only Robert Morris standout Jaycee Gebhart as the highest-scoring freshman.
“I think these games against Union were great,” she said. “I think we played better than them, we did everything we were supposed to do.”
Vanisova’s second goal of the night was a play that could not have been drawn up better by coach. The forward grabbed a loose puck and raced toward the net, gave a nifty little deke to put Union goalie Kate Spooner out of position, and pushed the puck right past the left skate of the excellent goaltender.
“I saw the goalie, she was still on the one post close to me, so I just, like, came back,” she said.
This was the goal that put the Black Bears up for good on the afternoon, with the third and final goal being scored thanks to a Vanisova assist to fellow Czech native Vendula Pribylova.
“We were really impressed with Union,” Maine coach Richard Reichenbach said. “They worked really hard today and yesterday. We did a really great job moving the puck. The first five or six minutes, they were all over us, and they had their scoring chances.”
With the win, Maine grabbed its first sweep of the season.
“I think we were consistent over both games, and with that, we were lucky to get the win today.”
Union played a great game, and kept it close, as the young team showed that it has a deep talent base to build on, but may still be a little ways away from competing.
“I like the way we started the game; their team is good, they are hardworking,” Union coach Josh Sciba said. “Overall, I think our team played pretty well, and they took advantage of a couple of opportunities during the third period. The margin for wins and loses is so small.”
The lone Union goal was scored by junior defenseman Caitlyn McLaren on a power play during a hard-fought second period. While Maine was able to score more goals, the goaltending play was certainly not a glaring weakness for Union. Freshman Kate Spooner played very well, putting up 31 saves and giving her all to keep the team in it.
The future is certainly bright for these two teams, as they both have freshmen in regular rotations and contributing early.
The Dutchwomen (2-16-0) head into next weekend’s series with Minnesota State in last place of the ECAC standings.
The Black Bears (6-12-1) head into their winter break with five conference points, and sitting in eighth place in Hockey East. They next play Vermont on January 7.