ERIE, Pa. — Even a loud crowd of 450 couldn’t get Mercyhurst to shake off its rust from a month-long layoff. But Providence shook off its subpar performance from last week against Dartmouth and surprised the Lakers in their own barn with a 3-2 win.
Mercyhurst coach Mike Sisti knew last week was a fluke when Providence (9-5-3) was beaten by No. 2 Dartmouth by a wide 10-2 margin and that his Lakers (10-5-2) would be in for a tougher challenge.
Said Sisti before the game: “I expect to see Providence at their very, very best. I don’t know what happened last week but I know Bob Deraney does a great job with his team, and I know he will want to right the ship.”
He was right. The Friars showed resiliency in going ahead 1-0 in the first period and coming back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period.
Building on the Lakers’ second period momentum, sophomore Stefanie Bourbeau poked home a rebound early in the third period to give the Lakers that 2-1 lead.
But only two minutes later, Friar sophomore Sonny Watrous flipped the puck past sprawling Mercyhurst goalie Desirae Clark to tie it up. That set up the winning goal just over three minutes later by Friar defenseman Kristin Gigliotti.
“I was just going hard into the zone and the puck came out and I shot it toward the top post and thank God it went in,” Gigliotti said.
The win offered a measure of redemption from the disappointing Dartmouth performance.
“We had something to prove to ourselves,” Gigliotti said. “We had to prove we are better than what we showed on the ice last week against Dartmouth and that we are a top 10 team and hopefully we will be back in that position by the end of the weekend.”
Providence came out strong in the first period and dominated play throughout. Providence outshot the Lakers 13-4 in the period and 34-31 by the end of the game.
The only goal of the first period came off a Mercyhurst turnover on its own blue line to Providence’s Christina Redmond. She momentarily lost control of the puck but then kicked the puck toward Clark. The initial shot was stopped but Rachel Crissy backhanded the rebound over Clark.
The second period was a total reversal of the first period. Mercyhurst outshot the Friars 15-7 and maintained consistent puck control.
Laker junior Samantha Shirley blistered a shot from the point past Friar goaltender Amy Thomas at the 16:49 mark of the second period to tie the game at one. That sent the Laker fans into a frenzy with the Thundersticks that were given away before the game.
Sisti came into the game with some mixed emotions. On one hand he was excited to get back on the ice after the long break but was worried about the possibility of sloppy play.
Sisti said, “We need to pay attention to the details. The girls are excited to play and we just hope we are not sloppy, especially in our end of the rink.”
After the game, Deraney downplayed the importance of this win against a ranked team.
“Every win is a big win,” he said. “What we have to do is focus on ourselves and we have to get a lot better and today is a good step forward. We need to string some wins together and whether it’s against the No. 5 team in the nation or any other team we just have to win some hockey games.”
The Friars will get to test that theory tomorrow afternoon when they play at Niagara. Mercyhurst will try and rebound from this loss tomorrow against Connecticut at home.