UMass Takes Series Opener Despite McGillicuddy, O'Connor Goals

Riley O'Connor scored a 3-on-5 shorthanded goal in the late going

Sarah McGillicuddy and Riley O'Connor scored spectacular transitional goals, but Penn State was doomed by a slow start and power play misfires in a 5-2 loss at Massachusetts on Friday night in Amherst, MA.

With the defeat, PSU dropped to 1-11-0 overall (0-3-0 ECWHL), while the eighth-ranked Minutemen are now 8-5-0 overall (1-0-0 ECWHL).

UMass jumped out to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period, a scoreline that belied what was generally an evenly-played frame and wound up representing the difference in the contest.

Annie Lee struck first, with 7:55 remaining, on a breakaway following a nice stretch pass from Sarah O'Sullivan that caught the Lady Ice Lions napping near the Massachusetts line. Just over a minute later, with Trish Cierniak serving a body checking minor, UMass leading scorer Jojo Olson buried from the bottom of the circle from Kelly Dolan's feed. The trifecta wrapped up with 4:10 left when Hannah Sullivan's centering attempt from right wing took an unfortunate bounce in front and wound up behind Emma Shannon.

McGillicuddy finally got Penn State on the board early in the second period with a fantastic individual effort.

Cierniak got the sequence started with a nice play to get the puck out of the PSU end, finding McGillicuddy near center down the left side. The Massachusetts native then disposed of the lone UMass defenseman back with an outside-inside move, before beating Minutemen goalie Amber Greene with a backhand-forehand combo.

From there, at 3-1, the sense was largely that the next goal would swing things drastically. And the Lady Ice Lions would receive three significant opportunities to get that goal via consecutive power plays spanning from the 6:06 mark through the 17:08 mark. However, each misfired and crucially, UMass held things at 3-1 through 40 minutes.

The Minutemen would not let their own subsequent special teams opportunity pass.

With 8:45 remaining, defenseman Syd Foy was called for tripping, while head coach Jeremy Bean received a bench minor and was ejected for protesting the penalty. UMass then received a full 2:00 of a 5-on-3 advantage, which saw Sullivan grab her second goal of the evening. Olson added her own second two minutes later for an additional bit of insurance.

O'Connor's highlight, while coming after the game was more or less decided, was nevertheless special. With the Minutemen once again on a 5-on-3 advantage, Kate Lombardozzi cleared out to center after a Shannon save. O'Connor was the first to it and beat the defenseman down the left side with her speed, before lowering her shoulder to protect the puck and firing home on her backhand before the opposite defenseman could make her way across.

Shannon finished with 27 saves, while former World University Games goalie Greene had 16 on the other end.

The teams will conclude the weekend set on Saturday morning at 9:20 a.m.

Box Score

First Period
1. Massachusetts, Annie Lee (Sarah O'Sullivan), 7:55; 2. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (Kelly Dolan), 6:42 (power play); 3. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (Sarah O'Sullivan), 4:10.
1. Penn State, Trish Cierniak (2:00 high sticking), 15:21; 2. Penn State, Trish Cierniak (2:00 body checking), 7:02; 3. Massachusetts, Kelly DeMarco (2:00 interference), 1:25.
Second Period
4. Penn State, Sarah McGillicuddy (Trish Cierniak), 18:10.
4. Massachusetts, Meghan Lawler (2:00 tripping), 16:59; 5. Penn State, Crosby Deliman (2:00 high sticking), 15:54; 6. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (2:00 interference), 15:14; 7. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (2:00 roughing), 13:05; 8. Massachusetts, Meredith Gallagher (2:00 body checking), 4:52; 9. Penn State, Erin Bonner (2:00 interference).
Third Period
5. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (Sandra Bienkowski, Sarah O'Sullivan), 7:53 (power play); 6. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (Meghan Lawler), 5:45; 7. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (Kate Lombardozzi), 3:13 (shorthanded).
10. Penn State, Syd Foy (2:00 tripping), 8:45; 11. Penn State, Bench (2:00 unsportsmanlike conduct, served by Sophie Paolizzi), 8:45; 12. Penn State, Katelyn Trask (2:00 body checking), 3:53; 13. Penn State, Crosby Deliman (2:00 slashing), 3:31.
Penn State: Emma Shannon: L, 27 saves/32 shots. Massachusetts: Amber Greene: W, 16 saves/18 shots.

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