No. 8 UNH women's hockey edged by Providence, 4-3

Late Wildcat rally falls short

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - In a battle for first place in the Hockey East standings, Providence College scored three second-period goals in a span of 4:22 and withstood a late rally for a 4-3 victory against eighth-ranked University of New Hampshire in Sunday afternoon's women's ice hockey action at Schneider Arena.

UNH, winless in four games at 0-2-2, is now 19-7-6 overall and 11-3-4 in Hockey East. PC moved into a first-place tie with the Wildcats at 12-4-2 in the league and the Friars (17-10-5 overall) hold the tiebreaker advantage with a 2-1-1 record vs. the 'Cats this season.

Trailing 4-0 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, UNH scored goals 14 seconds apart to quickly trim the deficit to 4-2. With a penalty forthcoming to the Friars, Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) took the ice as an extra skater, received a pass from Lindsay Hansen (Northport, N.Y.) as she cut through the slot and fired a backhander into the net at 11:56. Shannon Clement (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) was also credited with an assist.

The Wildcats, who were already on a power play, struck again when Taylor Palazeti (Calgary, Alberta), with the assistance of Jackie Wedster (Chicago, Ill.), scored a power-play goal from the left circle at 12:10.

With five minutes remaining, UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec) stoned Rush Zimmerman on a breakaway and that play became magnified when the Wildcats struck again at 18:14 to pull within 4-3. Stephanie Jones (Kimberley, B.C.) sent Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba) alone through the neutral zone with a pass up the left dasher and Hekle's shot from the top of the left circle found the inside of the far post.

Bourdon was pulled in favor of an extra skater with 1:12 to play but PC blocked a pair of shots and cleared the zone with 20 seconds to play. Hekle sparked a counterattack that sprung Jones down the right wing. Jones' diving effort deep in the circle was smothered by Friars' goalie Amy Thomas with 1.4 seconds on the clock. Zimmerman tied up Wedster on the ensuing faceoff to prevent a shot and secure the win.

Bourdon finished with 25 saves while Thomas stopped 21 shots for PC.

Providence broke open a scoreless tie in the second period when Cherie Hendrickson and Zimmerman scored goals 83 seconds apart at 12:54 and 14:17, respectively. Hendrickson scored off a rebound in front and Zimmerman upped the lead to 2-0 on a breakaway down the right wing in which she shifted to the front of the net to score.

The Wildcats went on the power play less than a minute later, however, and a shot from the right point by Clement sailed through a screen and caromed off the far post. Moments later, on a delayed penalty vs. the Friars, Hekle's centering pass across the goal crease caught PC goalie Amy Thomas out of position, but she was able to cover the loose puck because Jones, UNH's leading goal scorer, was tied up at the left post.

As the first of two Friars' penalties expired, Providence was awarded a penalty shot and Hilary Greaves upper-shelved a close-range shot into the right corner to extend the lead to 3-0 at 17:16.

Rachel Crissy, with the assistance of Emily Gryp and Greaves, scored a 4-on-3 power-play goal at 2:06 of the third period to give PC what appeared to be a commanding 4-0 advantage.

The teams skated to a scoreless tie in the first period. UNH defenseman Nicole Goguen (Truro, Nova Scotia) helped keep the game scoreless by clearing the puck off the goal line midway through the stanza.

New Hampshire returns to action for its last home game of the season, March 5 vs. Boston College. Game time at the Whittemore Center is 2 p.m. The Wildcats end the regular season March 6 (2 p.m.) at BC's Conte Forum.

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