Furious Rally Sees Women’s Ice Hockey Overcome Plymouth State, 5-4 (OT)

Photo credit: Meg Stokes.
Photo credit: Meg Stokes.

WINCHENDON, Mass. (November 5, 2019) – Of all the games which have been played in the history of the sport of ice hockey, Tuesday night's meeting between the Franklin Pierce University women's ice hockey team and Plymouth State was, without a doubt, one of them. With four minutes remaining in regulation in what could charitably be called "a strange affair" at the Jason Ritchie Ice Arena, Franklin Pierce held a 48-14 advantage in shots, and yet trailed the game by a 4-1 margin. It turned out things were only getting started. From there, the Ravens put together a comeback posthaste, as three extra-attacker goals in a span of 2:39 leveled the score with 52 seconds to play and set the stage for the overtime winner from freshman forward Ava Kison (Eau Claire, Wis.).

With the non-conference win, Franklin Pierce improves to 4-2-0, while Plymouth State opens its season at 0-1-0.

The game could already have been filed under "Things That Happen in Hockey, Weird" before the third period started on Tuesday night, and it only got weirder from there. Already leading 3-1 despite the fusillade of pucks peppering its own net, Plymouth State caught a fortuitous bounce to up the lead to 4-1.

Franklin Pierce freshman defenseman Stefanie Caban (Fitchburg, Mass.) went to play a pass off her own end boards, behind the net, to her defensive partner. Instead, the puck hit a seam in the boards at the Zamboni entrance and caromed out front to the lucky Plymouth State forward on the scene, sophomore Sid Thompson, who was unattended and banged home a shot from the top of the crease at the 3:19 mark.

The game stayed stuck on 4-1 deep into the third period, until Franklin Pierce pulled its goalie, a move which also seemingly unraveled the thin threads of sanity which had previously tethered the game to reality.

The cornucopia of extra-attacker goals which allowed Franklin Pierce to tie the game started at the 16:29 mark, in a delayed-penalty situation. On the left-wing side, freshman forward Becca Kniss (Eden Prairie, Minn.) worked the puck behind the net for junior forward Haley Parker (Londonderry, N.H.). Parker was able to slip a centering pass out front for freshman forward Katelyn Brightbill (Annville, Pa.), who put home her second of the season from the bottom of the left circle.

On the ensuing power play, the Ravens got the goaltender back to the bench again and then sliced the deficit to 4-3. From the right side, senior defenseman Bridgette Prentiss (Buffalo, N.Y.) worked the puck to the middle of the blue line for Caban. The latter's shot from there was deflected at least once by the defense en route and eventually clanged off the crossbar and into the net for the freshman's third goal of the campaign, at 18:22.

The extra-attacker onslaught continued at 19:08, as the Ravens capped the comeback off of a faceoff in the right-wing circle. Junior forward Nicole Amato (Billerica, Mass.) won the draw back to Prentiss, who took the puck to the right point. Prentiss found a lane all the way across the attacking zone and fired a pass to Parker in the middle of the left circle. The Granite State native did not miss from there, as she buried her second goal of the season to level the score at 4-4.

It all set the stage for the heroics of Kison 2:34 into the overtime period. Freshman forward Cassidy Jones (Stillwater, Minn.) chipped the puck deep into the left-wing corner, where Kison chased it down. Kison then made her way along the goal line and seemingly defied the laws of physics to flip a backhand shot over the shoulder of the goaltender, under the crossbar and into the roof of the net to send the Ravens spilling off the bench in celebration. The second goal of the season for Kison was her first career game-winning goal.

Earlier in the night, Franklin Pierce had taken the lead with a power-play tally in the first period. Kniss finished off her own rebound at the right post at 19:06, while freshman defenseman Bethany Ross (Canton, Mich.) and Parker picked up the assists.

Plymouth State surged out front with three goals, on just six shots, in the middle stanza. Senior forward Julie Nagel capitalized on a 2-on-1 at the 31-second mark, senior forward Alexis Fagan walked out of the left-wing corner to score at 3:13, and senior defenseman Alie Louie picked the top-left corner from the left point on the power play at 11:37. Junior defenseman Sydney Linnick assisted on all three goals in the frame.

Senior goaltender Jessica Strack (Reading, Mass.) finished with 12 saves against 16 shots and picked up the win (2-0-0) in net for Franklin Pierce. Freshman Becca Bridge (0-1-0) piled up 50 saves against 55 shots in her collegiate debut but was stuck with the tough-luck loss in the Plymouth State crease.

Franklin Pierce returns to the ice on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8-9, when they travel to Saint Michael's for an NEWHA weekend series. Opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at Cairns Arena in South Burlington, Vt.

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 ice hockey apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' brand new online store (https://www.shopfpuravens.com).