AUBURN — A hockey team never wants to go on the penalty kill, but doing so happened to spark the Red Hornets’ offense Saturday.

Edward Little/Leavitt/Poland scored twice in the first period immediately after killing off Falmouth power plays, and the hosts rode those goals to a 3-1 season-opening victory at Norway Savings Bank Arena.

The Red Hornets (1-0) went to the penalty box only 2:20 into the game. They held the Yachtsmen (0-1) without a shot on goal during the power play, and then Caroline Tracey got a hold of the puck soon after the kill and sniped a shot from the left circle past Falmouth goalie Hannah Dubinsky.

“She was all the way over on the left side, so she kept her whole glove-side open, so I just shot there,” Tracey said.

Less than five minutes later, Eve Martineau also scored moments after her team stymied another Falmouth power play. Martineau was initially denied by Dubinsky going right to left across the front of the goal, but her second effort on the rebound went in to make it 2-0.

The goals came during a 10-0 run of shots for the Red Hornets, a run the Yachtsmen eventually ended with a pair of shots against goalie Manny Guimond with less than 3:30 remaining in the opening period.

Guimond stopped the first seven shots she faced, but the eighth Falmouth try, seven minutes into the second period, went in, and Guimond was none-too-pleased about it. Grace Fallon’s point shot was on-target, and Guimond tried to brush it away with her stick, but she didn’t sweep it away hard enough and the shot still went in. Veronica Grobe grabbed an assist on the goal.

“What’s the saying? ‘The worst lead in hockey is a two-goal lead,'” Red Hornets coach Dana Berube said.

“Thought we had control of that game at the end of the first period, had a couple incredible opportunities to extend that lead, and I think it’s a good lesson for the girls, you know, you can let a team crawl back into the game, and we did that,” Berube added.

The Red Hornets’ penalty kill had to come up big again later in the frame. The Yachtsmen had 42 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage but couldn’t muster a shot on goal as they tried to tie the game. A shot on goal did come moments after the Red Hornets got one of their players back on the ice, but Guimond (10 saves) turned it away.

“We kind of felt like that was a good chance, you know, having 40-plus seconds of a 5-on-3 to be an opportunity to take advantage of the space that we would have to operate,” Falmouth coach Rob Carrier said. “And I thought we could have had a really good scoring chance, but I think one of our passes just got under one of our sticks and it just evaporated like that.”

Following a Falmouth penalty, Sophia Castagna had a chance to regain the Red Hornets’ two-goal advantage after she came back on the ice to give the hosts a 5-on-4 advantage, but the Falmouth defense recovered to stop her before a shot attempt.

Four of the Red Hornets’ six shots on goal in the second period came while on the penalty kill, only further highlighting the effectiveness of a unit that survived eight penalties with only two shots against.

“We had the box pretty well. We had one fore-checker going after them,” Berube said. “You know, I think we had a lot of puck possession. So even though we had more penalties than we really would have liked, I thought we had pretty good puck possession throughout the course of the game.”

The put-away goal in the third actually came on the penalty kill, with Tracey scoring from a similar spot with 6:20 left.

Dubinsky finished with 24 saves for Falmouth.

“She’s used to seeing a lot of shots, and the win-loss isn’t where she wanted it, but I think what she did in net is exactly what she wanted and what she can expect from herself going forward,” Carrier said.

The Red Hornets fittingly finished the game with a player in the penalty box.

“They’ll do some skating (at practice) Monday,” Berube said.


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