Breaking Bad: Darby's Hat Trick Helps Rhode Island Power Past PSU

Monica Darby and Rhode Island held Penn State in check on Friday night

Thanks largely to a hat trick from leading scorer Monica Darby and a 19-save shutout by Abbey Torres, tenth-ranked Rhode Island rolled to a 5-0 win over the Lady Ice Lions on Friday night in Pegula Ice Arena.

With the defeat, Penn State dropped to 3-10-0 overall and 3-8-0 in the Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League. URI, meanwhile, boosted its overall ACHA mark to 12-4-0, including 7-2-0 in the ECWHL.

The Rams, over the years, have occasionally been a transition-based team, but in the series opener of the semester-closing series for both teams, they returned to their bread and butter of below-the-goalline play to build a 2-0 lead through 40 minutes of play.

Just 3:10 from the opening faceoff, Casey McCormick opened the scoring off a Penn State turnover and a puck out to the bottom half of the circle, followed by a clean snipe along the ice from the junior captain. It was the only damage done to PSU goalie Meg Lydick in the frame, as the freshman stopped 22 of 23 Rhody shots otherwise, part of a 40-for-45 effort over the whole game.

A similar looking setup, followed by blown coverage, let Darby loose for her first tally, midway through the second period and from the slot following a crisp passing combination from notorious Penn State killer Janessa Courtney and freshman Madison Balutowski.

If the game had held there, some conceivable scenario could have seen the Lady Ice Lions claw their way back into the contest. Cassie Dunne, Sophie Paolizzi, Keara Sullivan and Katelyn Trask all had notable chances through the first two periods that, with a lucky bounce added or a great Torres save subtracted, could have changed the tenor of the proceedings.

That's not what happened, however.

An increasingly chippy third period - including five total penalties - saw URI pile three more on for the final margin. Balutowski scored from classmate Brynne Costa during a Liz Tuorinsky roughing call, followed by Darby potting her second and third goals in the final 7:12. Friday's output continued a productive week for the Vernon, CT product, who also scored twice in the Rams' win over Northeastern on Wednesday, and now has 17 goals and 29 points this year. Torres' shutout followed one against the Huskies, bringing the sophomore's personal goal-free streak to 166:06.

Courtney finished with a pair of assists to up her total to 14 points in nine career games against Penn State.

The teams will play the back half of the series on Saturday night at 8:00 before heading into finals week and winter break.

Box Score

First Period
1. Rhode Island, Casey McCormick (unassisted), 16:50.
1. Penn State, Darian Dempsey (2:00 slashing), 9:21; 2. Penn State, Cassie Dunne (2:00 interference), 5:41.
Second Period
2. Rhode Island, Monica Darby (Janessa Courtney, Madison Balutowski), 7:52.
Third Period
3. Rhode Island, Madison Balutowski (Brynne Costa), 16:43 (power play); 4. Rhode Island, Monica Darby (Caitlin McGuirl, Janessa Courtney), 7:12; 5. Rhode Island, Monica Darby (Leah Hoder), 2:40.
3. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (2:00 roughing), 17:05; 4. Rhode Island, Monica Darby (2:00 roughing), 13:59; 5. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (2:00 unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:46; 6. Rhode Island, Casey McCormick (2:00 unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:46; 7. Rhode Island, Tea Williams (2:00 tripping), 0:50.
Penn State: Meg Lydick: L, 40 saves/45 shots; Rhode Island: Abbey Torres: W, 19 saves/19 shots.

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