The University of Rhode Island women’s ice hockey team swept the Pennsylvania State Ice Lions at the Bradford R. Boss Ice Arena by final scores of 7-4 and 6-4 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
During Saturday’s game, the Rams dominated early and often, controlling the tempo from the puck drop. Senior forward Alisha DiFilippo netted her 31stt goal of the season on a high shot through several players in the lane just seven minutes into the game. In the final minute of the opening period, senior forward Kristen Levensque, assisted by Brenna Callahan, hit a puck from high in the left circle on the only power play goal of the game.
Just 28 seconds later, DiFilippo added her second goal of the game, giving the Rams a 3-0 lead. DiFilippo solidified her dominant performance when she completed a hat trick less than three minutes into the second period.
“I can’t say enough about the type of player she is for us, she’s unbelievable,” Rhode Island head coach Ashley Pagliarini said. “She’s a team-first player, she puts the goals in when we need it, she makes the big defensive plays when we need it, her speed is awesome.”
DiFilippo has transitioned into one of the most significant leaders on the Rams in addition to scoring 36 goals this season.
After URI raced to a 4-1 lead to begin the third period, Penn State found their spark offensively, trading goals with the Rams and twice cutting the lead in half. The third period featured a 3-3 shootout, but Penn State ran out of steam and time.
“We have to clean up our defensive zone a little bit, and controlling the puck, just making smarter decisions with the puck and controlling the game more,” Pagliarini said. “We wanted to keep the pressure on them, and play smart defensively the whole game.”
Freshman goalie Abagail Torres had a strong performance, saving 20 of 24 shots and holding the Lions to only one total goal through the first two periods of the game.
“Our goalie is a freshman, she’s been stepping up, especially the last five, six games making the big saves, and really stepping into it,” Pagliarini said. “As our goalie, making the big saves when we need them gives us a chance to win every night. This is when you want to be playing well down the stretch.”
Sunday, the Rams faced more adversity, but were able to outlast the Lions after spoiling a late comeback effort. URI called upon Katelyn Bucior to fill the goalie duties, splitting up the workload like they have all season. She surrendered four goals on 16 shots. Sophomore forward Monica Darby scored twice and assisted on goals by DiFilippo and Lexie Stefekos in the third period respectively.
The Rams are ranked No. 1 in the division with a 12-2-2 record, positioning themselves for the top seed in the playoffs in two weeks.
“We knew we had to win to get the first seed in the playoffs in two weeks and we did that today,” Pagliarini said. “We have an awesome senior core, all five of them are just great examples and give our younger players a good example to look up to.”
The Rams return to action Sunday against the University of New Hampshire to close out the regular season.