End of the road for women’s hockey

The University of Vermont women’s ice hockey team continues to build toward success as another season concludes, providing much optimism for the future.

The Catamounts finished the regular season as the fifth seed in Hockey East, and were sent on the road for the Hockey East quarterfinals against Providence College.

The Cats had a heartbreaking loss in game one, where they rallied from a two-goal deficit only to see Providence score the winning goal with 8.1 seconds left.

Vermont flexed its offensive muscles by outscoring the Friars 10-3 in games two and three, advancing the Cats to the Hockey East semifinals for the second time in program history.

First-year forward Ève-Audrey Picard and sophomore forward Alyssa Gorecki led the way with six points each on the series, including a penalty shot goal by Picard.

In the semis at Walter Brown Arena in Boston, the Catamounts were up against Boston College, a team that had defeated the Cats 7-1 in their last meeting.

The Cats pushed Boston to the limit, twice erasing two-goal deficits to tie the game in the third period and taking the game to double overtime.

However, they were unable to reach the final, as BC forward Andie Anastos beat senior goaltender Madison Litchfield with a backhander three minutes and 3 seconds into the extra frame to give the Eagles a 4-3 win and a spot in the Hockey East final.

“I want to say how proud I am of this team,” head coach Jim Plumer said. “To come back twice from two-goal deficits in this game, and to really fight tooth and nail for 85 minutes.”

Vermont finished the season with 15-14-9 record, their third 15-win season in four years, according to UVM athletics.

Prior to Plumer’s 2012 hiring, the Catamounts had never had a season with that many wins.

This season was a historic one, with a number of program records breaking.

Picard set program records first-year player with 16 goals and 31 points, leading the team in both categories.

Both records were previously held by senior forward Victoria Andreakos, who had 11 goals and 27 points in the 2013-14 season, according to UVM athletics.

For her efforts, Picard earned a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.

Litchfield set a new program record for career wins, earning 32 during her four-year career.

Litchfield took a huge step this season, posting a .928 save percentage — up from .901 as a junior — and was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team, along with junior defender Taylor Willard.

“I’m so incredibly proud of this group,” Plumer said. “It was a heartbreaking way to end the season but we can hold our heads high knowing we left it all out there on the ice.”