Lauren Fontaine picked up the puck at the center ice spot, picked up steam as she hit the Boston University blue line, then (so it seemed, anyway) calmly picked the upper right corner behind Terrier goaltender Melissa Haber.
And anyone who happened to be inside Walter Brown Arena last Saturday, picked the right time to witness a key moment in the history of Sacred Heart hockey.
Maybe even the most important moment.
In any event, Fontaineâ€™s successful penalty shot, a seldom seen occurance on any hockey level, an absolute rarity in womenâ€™s hockey, had a galvanizing effect on the Pioneers.
The gals on the bench were screaming, jumping up and down, banging their sticks, celebrating like never before.
One might have thought that the Pioneers had just captured the Frozen Four, and not merely cut the BU lead to 5-1, midway through the second period.
â€œEveryone was thrilled that I put it in.â€ said Fontaine, a freshman from Windsor, Ont. â€œIt did give our team some life. It brought our team together.â€
Rallying points have been scarce for the Pioneers, the nationâ€™s only D-1 independent.
So have wins.
Oh, Sacred Heart has no problems beating up on Division-III opponents, the likes of which make up half itâ€™s schedule.
The D-I portion is another story, with nary a happy ending.
In five seasons as an independent, the Pioneers are still looking to card their regular season win over a Division-1 foe.
Sacred Heart is 0-7 in D-I play this year, while being outscored 53-7. Defeats handed them by Maine and Union, are the only wins those two schools have recorded all year.
So with no conference (a situation they hope to resolve), no on-campus rink, and no wins, you might gather that times are tough for SHU, and they are. But not as tough as youâ€™d think.
In fact, morale among the Pioneers has never been higher.
â€œWe still have heart,â€ said Fontaine. â€œWe still love the game. Everyone of us still wants to keep going.â€
It is the opportunity to offer playing time at a D-I school that provides SHUâ€™s veteran coach Tom Oâ€™Malley a fighting chance in the ever competitive recruiting wars.
Itâ€™s a battle that Oâ€™Malley has waged before, having guided programs both Boston College and Wayne State through their birth pains.
â€œThere are kids who are strictly going to go with the top-echelon teams,â€ Oâ€™Malley said, â€œand might not give Sacred Heart a look. But I think when they hear that they can come in and immediately become impact players, that becomes an avenue that they want to take. Some of them might have made another team, but maybe they wouldn’t be playing as much as they are, here. I think theyâ€˜re happy that theyâ€˜re going to a good school and playing D-I hockey.â€
Which is what enticed Fontaine to give Sacred Heart a whirl.
â€œPlaying D-I hockey is a dream of a lifetime for me,â€ she said.
Fontaineâ€™s dream took an unexpected twist when Oâ€™Malley chose her to take the penalty shot, after her teammate, senior Katie McLaughlin was hauled down while rushing toward the BU net.
â€œLiterally, I was in shock,â€ she said. â€œI thought â€˜oh, wowâ€™. Iâ€™m playing in this big game, everyone was looking at me, and everything was on my shoulders. I was kind of panicking. Kind of freaking out, at first. But I just breathed, and said to myself, â€˜hey, Lauren, you can do thisâ€™.â€
Said Oâ€™Malley, â€œThe referee (Patrick Silva) gave me the option of a penalty shot or a penalty. I didnâ€™t even take a second to think about it. I said â€˜weâ€™ll take the shot, Lauren hop out thereâ€™. Sheâ€™s been hot, and sheâ€™s a pure sniper. I can only imagine what was going through her mind, as far as pressure. But she kept her head. She came down and she sniped it. It was an NHL goal.â€
Fontaineâ€™s shot zipped in under the crossbar, hit the back of the net, and bounded out again.
â€œI still donâ€™t entirely remember how I scored,â€ she said, â€œbecause it was so fast. I just kind of went down there, saw an open corner, and just picked it. It ended up going in. And the whole team just attacked me.â€
It would be the stuff of fairy tales to say that Fontaineâ€™s goal served to rally the Pioneers to victory.
Instead, they went on to lose by a lopsided 11-1 count.
But the uplifting effect had been felt.
â€œThe one thing about the BU game,â€ said Oâ€™Malley, â€œis that we never stopped fighting. We fought the whole game. Yeah, they were a very good team, and they capitalized on all the mistakes we made. I think weâ€™ll be ready for our next matchup with them.â€
For Fontaine, the impact was a little more personal.
â€œIt was a really cool experience,â€ she said. â€œIt was a big goal that I potted. Iâ€™ll probably remember it for the rest of my career.â€
She wonâ€˜t be the only one.