NORTHFIELD, Vt. (January 20, 2017) – In its final trip to Kreitzberg Arena before leaving the New England Hockey Conference, and its final meeting with national power Norwich for the foreseeable future, the Franklin Pierce University women's ice hockey team made this one stick on Friday afternoon. Outgunned for much of the night, the Ravens got a power-play goal from junior forward Alex Brolsma (Bloomington, Minn.) midway through the third period to break a 1-1 tie. Meanwhile, a season-best 43 saves from senior goaltender Shannon O'Neil (Tewksbury, Mass.) made sure the goal would hold up, as Franklin Pierce picked up a 3-2 road win over the No. 3 nationally ranked Cadets.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 10-4-1 (6-3-0 NEHC), while Norwich falls to 11-3-1 (7-1-0 NEHC). The task does not get much easier for the Ravens, who return home to host NEHC second-place Holy Cross at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Jason Ritchie Ice Arena in Winchendon, Mass.
Norwich had been 7-1-0 at Kreitzberg Arena on the season, with its only previous home-ice loss coming against No. 1 Plattsburgh. Within ECAC East/NEHC play, the Cadets have been virtually unbeatable since Franklin Pierce joined the league in 2014-15. In that time frame, Norwich entered Friday night's game 38-1-2 in league play, including 20-0-1 on home ice. The last conference opponent to come away from Kreitzberg Arena victorious was Manhattanville, which scored a 3-2 road win over the Cadets on Feb. 15, 2013.
O'Neil was electric on a day the Ravens were outshot, 45-18, as she finished just one off her own program record of 44 saves, which she set in a 2-1 win on home ice over Holy Cross on Nov. 14, 2015. Her 43 saves stands as the most made by a netminder in a road game in school history.
O'Neil's biggest saves of the afternoon came while protecting a 2-1 lead with just over five minutes to pay in the third period. A rush up the ice and a centering feed from the right side left junior forward Sarah Schwenzfeier -- Norwich's leading scorer -- with a golden opportunity from the middle of the slot. O'Neil not only stopped Schwenzfeier's initial shot, and not only got her pad to the immediate follow-up chance by freshman forward Kirsten Watts, who crashed the net from the left-wing side, but also was then able to cover up the puck to relieve the pressure and maintain the 2-1 lead.
The 2-1 lead had materialized at the 9:48 mark of the frame, when Franklin Pierce capitalized on the last of its six power-play chances of the contest. With the puck at the right point, senior forward Alysha Raimo (Fitchburg, Mass.) sent it to the right-wing corner for freshman forward Meg Gilbride (Braintree, Mass.). Gilbride drew a sprawling defender towards her and flipped the puck towards the net from just below the faceoff dot. Brolsma was stationed at the top of the crease, in front of the right post and redirected the puck past Norwich senior goaltender Celeste Robert for her 10th goal of the season, tying for the team lead.
After O'Neil's ensuing strong effort near the 15-minute mark, Norwich would eventually pull Robert for the extra attacker with 1:21 to play. Just 17 seconds later, with 1:04 to play, junior forward Lanie Matsumoto (Fort Collins, Colo.) corralled a loose puck on the left-wing side of the offensive end and slotted it into the empty net for her fifth goal of the season, an unassisted tally to make it a 3-1 game.
Matsumoto's goal would wind up standing as the game-winner, as Norwich was not quite ready to be dispatched just yet. The Cadets got Robert back to the bench with 35 seconds to play and struck at 19:33 to pull back within a goal, at 3-2. Freshman forward Amanda Conway tallied her seventh goal of the campaign, as she was able to finish off a centering feed from fellow freshman forward Sophie McGovern.
Norwich kept Robert pulled, and controlled the faceoff, but could not track down the game-tying goal in the final 27 seconds. The Franklin Pierce defense was able to tie up any attempts to put the puck towards the net, as the Cadets were held without a further shot attempt and the Ravens came away with a 3-2 win.
Earlier in the day, the two teams traded goals in the first period. Franklin Pierce -- which never trailed in the game -- opened the scoring at the 16:02 mark. With possession at the right point, freshman defenseman Delaney Guimont (Bedford, N.H.) threw the puck towards the net. It was knocked down en route, and fell to the feet of senior forward Marisa Ketterman (Palmer, Alaska) at the top of the crease. Ketterman turned and chipped a shot over the glove hand of Robert, and into the top-right corner of the net, for her eighth goal of the season. Freshman forward Kayla Trujillo (Pueblo, Colo.) added an assist as well.
Norwich answered at 19:40, as the Cadets struck on their second of six power-play chances on the afternoon. Junior defenseman Kim Tiberi let a shot fly from the left point through traffic. The puck may have been deflected by the defense en route, but either way, O'Neil was screened at a minimum, and the shot wound up in the back of the net for Tiberi's second goal of the season. Sophomore defenseman Robyn Foley and Schwenzfeier provided the assists as the game went to the first intermission tied at 1-1. The score would remain as such until Brolsma put the Ravens ahead to stay midway through the third.
O'Neil (9-3-1) picked up the win after piling her up 43 saves against 45 shots on goal. Robert (2-3-0) stopped 15 of 18 shots and suffered the loss in the crease for Norwich.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce women's ice hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).