GORHAM, Maine -- The Sacred Heart University received goals from four players and sophomore goalie Alexius Schutt (Elk River, Minn.) stopped 31 shots as the Pioneers defeated the University of Southern Maine Huskies, 4-1, in a non-conference women's ice hockey game Wednesday afternoon at the USM Ice Arena.
The Division One independent Pioneers improved to 8-11-1 overall with the win. They are 8-3-1 in their last 12 games after getting off to a 0-8-0 start. The Huskies, 0-4-2 in their last six games, slip to 3-7-2 on the season.
Senior Nicole Palazzo (Rocky Hill, Conn.) staked the Pioneers to an early 1-0 lead scoring a power-play goal at 2:04 of the opening period. Palazzo was set up at the left side of the crease by a nifty, cross-ice pass from rookie Melissa Robbins (Nashua, N.H.). Freshman Cara Curran (Westford, Mass.) doubled the lead at 13:33 with her first collegiate goal after taking a pass from freshman Catherine Chittick (Hingham, Mass.).
Southern Maine got back into the game in the second period when senior Christen Hart (Saugus, Mass.) lit the lamp for the first time this season at 5:58. Sophomore Courtney White (Medford, Mass.) and senior Kylie Blasen (Okemos, Mich.) did the work down low to set up Hart 20 feet out in front of Schutt.
USM continued to pour the pressure on Schutt, but the second-year goalie protected the Pioneers' one-goal lead until rookie Alex Davis (Pembroke, Mass.) gave the visitors an insurance marker at 18:26. Davis shot from the left wing circle deflected off a USM defender and eluded freshman goalie Liz Bergstrom (Chanhassen, Minn.) to restore the Pioneers two-goal edge.
Freshman Meaghan Souza (Wilmington, Mass.) potted the only goal of the third period for the Pioneers at 14:45.
Schutt made 23 of her 31 stops over the final two periods as the Huskies outshot the Pioneers 24-12. Bergstrom recorded 18 saves for the Huskies.
Southern Maine returns to ECAC Women's East play this weekend with a home-and-home series with Plymouth State University. The two teams will play at Plymouth, N.H., on Friday (7:00 p.m.) with the return match on Saturday (4:00 p.m.) at the USM Ice Arena. Sacred Heart will host Penn State University for a pair of exhibition games this Friday (7:00 p.m.) and Saturday (2:00 p.m.).