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Women's hockey wins twice against UMass

By Shawn Saiya
On November 9, 2010

11/09/2010 - The No. 4-ranked University of Rhode Island women's hockey team defeated the University of Massachusetts in both its games this weekend. Junior forward Johanna Leskinen and senior defenseman Amanda Tassoni each put up seven points to propel the Rams to a two-game sweep over the Minutemen, winning Friday, 9-5, and Saturday, 3-2, in overtime.

The Rams scored on their first shift on Friday. Tassoni shot the puck through a heavy screen, making it past freshman goalie Chelsea Corell. Rhody struck again with eight and a half minutes to play in the first period. Junior forward Kayla Robidoux passed the puck across the crease to a waiting Leskinen, who stashed home the goal.

UMass scored with just less than five minutes to play in the period. Senior goalie Nina Goncarovs went down to the ice to make an initial stop and was unable to cover up the rebound before freshman forward Siobhan Elvin poked in the puck.

Leskinen picked up her second goal of the game with 24 seconds remaining in the period.

She stick-handled from the corner to the front of the net and shot between Corell's legs to give the Rams a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Leskinen picked up her second trick in three games two and a half minutes into the second period. She skated into the zone, moved through three defenders and shot the puck in as she was falling to the ice.

Just under a minute and a half later, Tassoni picked up her second goal of the game on the power play.

Leskinen scored her fourth goal of the game with seven and a half minutes remaining in the second period on a one-timer set up by senior forward Meghan Birnie that went in on the left side. UMass senior forward Catherine O'Brien scored on a one-timer to dig into the lead. Junior forward Danika Korpacz scored her third goal of the season on a tip with just more than three and a half minutes into the third period.

UMass freshman defenseman Rachel Gantt scored on the power play to give the Minutemen their third goal. UMass struck again on the power play to draw the score to 7-4 with eight minutes to play in the game.

Birnie scored with three minutes to play. She had four assists in the game before netting one herself.

"I'm always a playmaker, I never shoot," Birnie said. "You have to shoot sometimes."

UMass scored 35 seconds later, but Rhode Island prevailed 9-5 in the contest. The Rams outshot the Minutemen 38-29 in the game.

"Birnie showed up which was great [Korpacz] scored the goals when she had to, but we got a little lackadaisical on defense in the third period," head coach Beth McCann said. "A win against UMass is always a great win."

Rhode Island started Goncarovs in net again on Saturday while UMass went back to Corell, who was pulled after allowing four goals in 26 minutes the night before.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game after last night with nine goals scored, but the team came together at the end," Leskinen said. UMass struck first just less than 13 minutes into the game.

Leskinen scored her fifth goal of the series nine and a half minutes into the second period to tie the game. UMass regained the lead a minute later and appeared to have taken a two-goal lead shortly after, but the later goal was washed out by the officials.

"They capitalized on some opportunities and we were asleep in the first and second period on those," McCann said.

Despite trailing 2-1, the Rams held a 37-13 shots lead after two periods of play.

After a lengthy delay due to an injury that left Leskinen down on the ice for several minutes, Rhody rallied to tie the game.

The game went into overtime tied at 2-2. Leskinen skated into the UMass zone 1-on-1 three minutes into the extra session and scored top shelf over the blocker pad of Corell.

"It's always nice to score the winning goal in overtime and win the game and the series two-to-nothing," Leskinen said. "We had a lot of shots tonight and should have scored way more than we did. In the end, we scored the important goals and that's what matters."

The Rams had 62 shots on goal in the contest, compared to only 24 for UMass.

"They showed a lot of character with the win today," McCann said, "and their desire to win really proved to be better."

Rhody improved to 4-1-1 on the season with the sweep.

Next up for the Rams will be a matchup with NCAA Division III opponent Wesleyan University tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the Boss Ice Arena.

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