MANCHESTER, N.H. (February 23, 2019) – A highlight-reel goal by sophomore forward Nicole Amato (Billerica, Mass.) wound up standing as the difference on Saturday night, as the third-seeded Franklin Pierce University women's ice hockey team upended second-seeded Sacred Heart in the semifinal round of the NEWHA Tournament, hosted by Saint Anselm at Sullivan Arena. Junior defenseman Bridgette Prentiss (Buffalo, N.Y.) and freshman forward Kiki Doucette (Bridgewater, Mass.) added goals as well, while freshman goaltender Emme Ostrander (Westborough, Mass.) made 28 saves, none more key than the last few, as the Ravens held on for a 3-2 victory.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 20-9-1 and has won 20 games for the second time in program history. With the loss, Sacred Heart concludes its season at 20-8-4. The Ravens advance to Sunday afternoon's NEWHA title game, where they will meet top seed and host Saint Anselm at 4 p.m. at Sullivan Arena. It is Franklin Pierce's first trip to the league title game since 2015, when the Ravens played in the New England Hockey Conference.
The two teams would trade goals in the first period on Saturday. Sacred Heart struck just 3:09 into the proceedings. Junior forward Maddie Bishop was able to find a lane across the middle of the zone and thread a pass from the left side over to the right circle. Junior forward Victoria Grimmer was on the other end of the feed and roofed a shot from there, picking the top-right corner for her eighth goal of the season.
The Ravens would have the answer on the power play at the 12:21 mark. Prentiss pinched forward from the right point into the right circle and wound up finishing off a broken play. She corralled a loose puck and pocketed it in the top-right corner for her 12th goal of the campaign.
Franklin Pierce put together a 13-9 advantage in shots in the second period and certainly enjoyed the better of the chances in the middle frame, including the stanza's only two goals. First came another power-play tally at the 9:28 mark. Junior forward Meg Gilbride (Braintree, Mass.) sent the puck towards the net from the left-wing side and Doucette got her stick to it en route. She was able to deflect the puck up and over the shoulder of Sacred Heart senior goaltender Sarah Erban for her third goal of the season. Junior defenseman Katie Neuburger (Fayetteville, N.Y.) added an assist on the play as well.
The Ravens took the game's only two-goal lead just under three minutes later, at the 12:10 mark. Doucette and junior defenseman Delaney Guimont (Bedford, N.H.) combined to spring Amato in on a breakaway. Amato deked her way to the backhand and finished things off at the right post for her league-leading 22nd goal of the year.
Sacred Heart would not go quietly into the Manchester night, as the Pioneers pulled within a goal midway through the third period. It was an individual effort by junior forward Jayne Lewis, the team's leading scorer. She tracked down a puck at the top of the left-wing circle and made a move out into the slot. Lewis put her shot back against the grain and picked the top-left corner for her 19th goal of the season.
In all, Franklin Pierce was outshot, 13-4, in the third period, and things got particularly dicey down the stretch. Guimont was whistled for checking at the 18:30 mark, which set up a harrowing final 90 seconds, as Sacred Heart pulled Erban shortly thereafter for the extra attacker. Ostrander finished with four saves in the final five minutes, including one on Sacred Heart's last-gasp power-play chance, to preserve the lead and allow the Ravens to come away winners.
In all, Ostrander (13-5-1) finished with 28 saves against 30 shots to pick up the win and outduel Erban, who was selected as NEWHA Goalie of the Year earlier in the week. For her part, Erban (18-5-4) made 20 saves against 23 shots at the other end of the ice.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (https://www.fpuravens.com). 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 hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (https://www.fpuravens.com/store).