CANTON — The St. Lawrence University women’s hockey team ended the early part of their nonconference schedule in a unique way, defeating the Korean National Team, 7-1, in an exhibition game Thursday night at SUNY Canton.
Korea featured six players who took part in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and was on the second stop of a seven-game tour in North America. SLU is the only United States team the squad will play as it opened Wednesday with a game against the Ottawa 67’s girls junior team and will play its next five games against Canadian squads.
The Saints are 3-3-2 overall as they open ECAC Hockey competition next weekend with games at Rensselaer and Union.
“They have a pretty good group of kids and they have a packed schedule of seven games,” Saints coach Chris Wells said of the Korean squad, which features a defenseman Eom Su-Yeon who played in the Olympics and is an NCAA Division I potential recruit.
“I was happy with some of the efforts out of our kids,” Wells added. “You get a chance to score and you get a little bit of confidence, which helps. It was a good night for us. I got all the goalies in and I think everybody is going home pretty happy.”
The two teams posed together, arm in arm, for a photo before the game and, for the early part of the contest, the Korean squad was matching SLU.
Kayla Vespa, who is off to a hot start in her senior season, scored the first goal for the Saints at 6 minutes, 29 seconds, and that started what was a four-goal flurry in 5:31.
Vespa leads the Saints with six goals and eight assists in the first eight games. She’s already been ECAC Hockey women’s Player of the Week twice. She had picked up 35 career points in her first three years combined.
“ECAC starts next weekend, it was a good pace to start off and we are looking forward to the ECAC games next weekend,” Vespa said. “It’s just with my linemates (freshman Anna Segedi) does a great job in finding the puck and making good plays and same with (freshman Shailynn Snow). They just have good smarts for the ice, so it’s awesome.”
RIT junior transfer Brittney Grout scored a second goal for SLU just 47 seconds after Vespa to make it 2-0. Then Segedi, who is part of the Chinese national program, made it 3-0 with a goal at 9:54. The final goal in the flurry came from defenseman Skylar Podvey at 12 minutes.
Segedi, who finished with a goal and two assists, is second on SLU in scoring behind linemate Vespa, with six goals and six assists. She also leads the team with 31 shots.
“It was a really fun experience,” Segedi said of facing the Korean team. “It was good to see everyone play really hard. Even though it wasn’t a real game, everyone did really good and did their best. I really like (college hockey) so far. I have really good linemates and we’ve been connecting really well. It’s been a good start of the season. It’s a whole new adjustment, but all nine (freshmen) are doing really well and adjusting the best we can.”
SLU sophomore defenseman Kristen Guerriero scored an unassisted goal at 7:34 of the second period, but Korea responded with a goal from Choi Ji-Yoeon at 19:00 of the second to cut the lead to 5-1.
The Saints added a power-play goal from Snow at 3:35 of the third and ended the scoring with a goal from senior Dakota Golde at 19:34.
“It was an awesome experience,” said SLU captain Kalie Grant, a Potsdam native. “I’ve personally never played against a national team. It’s always fun to play different teams, especially ones from all the way across the world. It’s cool. We all intermingled and we were talking before (the game)”
The Saints played three of their goalies. Freshman Lucy Morgan started the game and made six saves. Freshman Caitlin Whitehead played the second period and made two saves, and sophomore Grace Smith made one save in the third, in her first appearance of the season.