Linnick's game-winner sends Panthers to semifinal next Saturday
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Sophomore Sydney Linnick (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) scored the game-winning goal 13:15 into overtime to lead the #4 seed Plymouth State University women's ice hockey team past #5 seed University of New England, 3-2, in the opening round of the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Tournament at Hanaway Rink on Saturday night.
Plymouth State notched its first-ever playoff win in the first home playoff game in program history. Linnick's blast, her sixth goal of the season, advances the Panthers to the semifinal round where PSU will face top-seeded Norwich University next Saturday (Feb. 24).
Junior Brooke Maggy (Los Angeles, Calif.) put the home team up in the opening two minutes. The 5-3 forward skated in from the left side, then beat sophomore Caty Flagg (Methuen, Mass.) with a backhanded shot to make it 1-0 just 1:58 into the game.
UNE evened the score at 1-apiece later in the period. Senior Annie Mullen (Concord, N.H.) skated in and fired a shot that junior Emelie Lindqvist (Gulleråsen, Sweden) turned aside, but freshman Katie Babineau (Pepperell, Mass.) was there to clean up the rebound and the game was tied with 6:16 remaining in the frame.
UNE went ahead midway through the second period when junior Carly Perreault (Berlin, N.H.) cut in through the left circle and sniped a wrist shot high to the near post while Lindqvist was screened at the 8:02 mark. It was Perreault's second of the season.
Plymouth kept the pressure on, peppering Flagg with shots through the second period. PSU outshot the Nor'Easters by a 13-4 margin in the frame, but Flagg, named NEHC Goaltender of the Year this week, was up to the test. PSU finally cashed in on its third power play opportunity of the frame at the 14:20 mark.
After a UNE clear, Lindqvist came way out of net to play the puck up to sophomore Kailey Jacobs (Westwood, Mass.) near center ice. Jacobs pushed a cross-ice pass to classmate Olivia MacMillan (Walpole, Mass.) who skated in alone from the right side. MacMillan cut to the goal, then stuffed a shot low to the near side past Flagg.
The Nor'Easters controlled much of the third period but the PSU defense limited them to just five shots and Lindqvist was able to keep the score even through the end of regulation.
The Panthers had a great scoring opportunity in the first minute of the extra frame when Maggy collected the puck at center ice, got behind a UNE defender and dumped it off to sophomore Julie Nagel (Canton, Mass.) on a 2-on-0 break. Nagel went to the backhand but Flagg was able to seal the post to keep the game tied.
UNE had a chance for the win at the 8:30 mark when freshman Jessica Tolzman (Apex, N.C.) and junior Julianna Sheehan (Chelmsford, Mass.) skated in for a 2-on-1 breakaway. Tolzman fired a shot from the right side that Lindqvist stopped and Sheehan took a hack at the rebound but Lindqvist was able to deny her and the puck slid through the crease untouched.
With PSU pressuring the offensive zone, Nagel collected the puck on the left half boards and centered to Linnick at the point. Linnick skated in alone and her wrist shot deflected off Flagg's glove and into the net for the game-winner.
Lindqvist, named All-NEHC Second Team earlier this week, finished with 22 saves to improve to 7-8-4 on the year, while Flagg made 33 stops but fell to 8-9-6.
The Panthers, who had their season come to an end last year in a first round playoff game at Norwich, will look to return the favor next Saturday. Puck-drop is set for 3:00 p.m.
– 30 –