No. 8 UNH women's ice hockey defeats Uconn, 5-2

Hekle paces 'Cat attack with goal, two assists

Nicole Hekle

DURHAM, N.H. -- Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba), the reigning Hockey East Player of the Week, recorded a goal and two assists to lead the eighth-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 5-2 Hockey East victory against the University of Connecticut at the Whittemore Center.

UNH, now 11-0-1 in the last 12 meetings vs. the Huskies, improved to 10-3-1 overall and 5-0-0 in Hockey East. UConn lost its third consecutive game to fall to 5-6-3, 2-2-0.

The Huskies played a strong first period to generate a 13-5 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 19:36. Caitlin Salazer-Reid's initial shot was turned aside by UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec), but Jaclyn Hawkins was in the low slot and pushed the puck into the net.

UNH took control in the second period to build a 3-1 lead with a 11-5 shot advantage. Talyor Palazeti (Calgary, Alberta) tied the game at with a power-play goal at 1:34 when she tapped Hekle's centering pass into the net. Lindsay Hansen (Northport, N.Y.) recorded the first of her two assists on the play.

Jackie Wedster (Chicago, Ill.) gave the 'Cats a lead they would not relinquish, 2-1, at 9:33. With Bourdon pulled in favor of an extra skater on a delayed penalty call, Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) moved the puck from the left point to Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) in the near circle. Wedster collected Hitchcock's centering pass and scored from the low slot.

New Hampshire netted its second power-play goal of the second period -- the 'Cats went 3-for-7 on the power play -- when Hekle scored from a scrum at the top of the crease at 13:45. Nicole Goguen (Truro, Nova Scotia), who fired the puck in from the left point, and Hansen were credited with assists.

Megan McCleod netted a shorthanded goal at 7:43 of the third period to trim the Huskies' deficit to 3-2. McCleod, with the assistance of Shannon Connolly, scored when her shot from the left point sailed into the upper right corner of the net.

The Wildcats regained momentum, however, and reestablished a two-goal lead of 4-2 when Stephanie Jones (Kimberley, B.C.) roofed her shot on a breakaway. Diana Saly (Edina, Minn.), who sprung Jones with a pass through the neutral zone, and Lindsey Caleo (Clinton Township, Mich.) received assists.

Connecticut pulled goaltender Shannon Murphy while on the power play with 3:01 remaining in the third period. The Huskies produced some pressure but did not create a dangerous scoring opportunity. Murphy returned to the net when one of her teammates was whistled for high sticking with 1:11 to play.

Jessica Zerafa (Mississauga, Ontario) closed the scoring when she scored off her own rebound on the power play at 19:30. Hekle and Jones set up the tally.

Bourdon finished with 23 saves while UConn's Murphy stopped 21 shots.

New Hampshire returns to action Dec. 9 (7 p.m.) at Northeastern University. The Wildcats conclude the 2004 calendar year by playing host to Harvard University on Dec. 11. Game time at the Whittemore Center is 5 p.m.

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