Rhody Rally Upends Strong Lady Ice Lions Effort in Series Opener

Monica Darby scored twice to lead the URI comeback effort

Monica Darby scored twice, including a late power play winner, while Brynne Costa added a pair of assists to rally Rhode Island past Penn State by a 3-2 count on Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena.

With the result, the ECWHL conference opener for both teams, PSU fell to 1-9-0 overall and 0-8-0 in ACHA games, while No. 15 URI is now 4-3-0 and 3-3-0, respectively.

Things started well enough for the Lady Ice Lions, as Rhode Island natives Meghan Miller and Katelyn Trask connected to give Penn State a 1-0 lead 6:13 into the game. After Riley O'Connor was foiled on her attempt down low, the puck kicked out to Rachel Kapoian at the line. Kapoian fired it in from the right side, where Trask recovered and slid backside to Miller for the finish.

The Rams, as would be the case late in the game, had a quick answer. Just 3:32 later, visiting power forwards Darby and Costa converged on the Penn State crease, where Darby pushed a dirty goal through the scrum and Emma Shannon to tie things up.

That 1-1 scoreline would hold up for most of the rest of an evenly-played contest, as goaltenders Shannon and Abbey Torres locked things down for the remainder of the first period, a breezy second period, and the first four minutes of the third period. During that 34-minute stretch, Penn State rookie Sarah McGillicuddy generated many of the best chances for either side. Midway through the second period, Torres made a fantastic sprawling save on a backside McGillicuddy rebound try. Early in the third, the Tabor Academy product dangled both Rams defenders and found herself alone in on Torres, but fired high and wide.

Torres finished with 22 saves, while Shannon collected 29 on the opposite end.

Appropriately enough, it was McGillicuddy who finally broke the stalemate, 4:01 into the third period. After Miller's grinding effort in front was turned away, a URI clearing attempt instead found the stick of Kate Lombardozzi. As on the first PSU goal, the defenseman fired into the Miller-created pile in front, where McGillicuddy calmly collected the loose puck and fired top shelf.

Rhody, again, had an answer - and then some.

With the blue and white 7:37 away from locking down a possible season-trajectory-altering win, Costa created a turnover in the Penn State zone and left the puck for classmate Madison Balutowski. Balutowski then fired from the left circle, off of Shannon's mask, and in.

Although the first two periods of the contest were penalty-free, special teams ended up deciding things late in the third period.

With Kapoian serving a holding call and 2:55 remaining, Darby buried her second of the evening on a deft backdoor feed from Casey McCormick. Unlike the Rams before them, the Lady Ice Lions were unable to respond in short enough order.

The two teams will close the series on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. at Galactic Ice in Altoona, PA.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Meghan Miller (Katelyn Trask, Rachel Kapoian), 13:47; 2. Rhode Island, Monica Darby (Brynne Costa), 10:15.
Second Period
Third Period
3. Penn State, Sarah McGillicuddy (Meghan Miller, Kate Lombardozzi), 15:59; 4. Rhode Island, Madison Balutowski (Brynne Costa), 7:37; 5. Rhode Island, Monica Darby (Casey McCormick), 2:55 (power play).
1. Penn State, Crosby Deliman (2:00 interference), 15:10; 2. Rhode Island, Brynne Costa (2:00 roughing), 13:04; 3. Penn State, Rachel Kapoian (2:00 holding), 4:00.
Penn State: Emma Shannon: L, 29 saves/32 shots. Rhode Island: Abbey Torres: W, 22 saves/24 shots.

Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram