Hitchcock sparks Wildcats with goal, two assists
STORRS, Conn. - Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) recorded a goal and two assists and three teammates had two points apiece to lead the No. 1-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Friday night's 5-1 Hockey East victory against the University of Connecticut at the Mark E. Freitas Ice Forum.
UNH won its 10th consecutive game to extend its unbeaten streak to an NCAA-record 22 games (21-0-1) and improve to 26-2-1 overall, 15-1-1 Hockey East. The first-place Wildcats are four points ahead of Boston College with four games remaining in the regular season and own the tiebreaker vs. the Eagles with a 2-1-0 record in the season series. UConn is now 11-19-1, 9-9-0.
Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) extended her point-scoring streak to 10 and goal-scoring streak to six with a pair of goals while both Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H) and Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) recorded two assists.
UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec) made nine of her 15 saves in the third period while UConn counterpart Kaitlyn Shain stopped 32 shots, including 15 in the second period.
The Wildcats built a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Lindsey Caleo (Clinton Township, Mich.) and Faber at 9:14 and 16:03, respectively.
The defensive pairing of Nicole Goguen (Truro, Nova Scotia) and Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) set up the first goal when Goguen, at the high slot, received a return pass from Bellamy and fired a slap shot that was redirected into the net by Caleo in the low slot.
Standing wide of the left post, Faber scored a power-play goal by tapping the loose puck inside the open near post. The scoring sequence began with a pass from Garland in the high slot to Wright-Ward down low. The rebound from Wright-Ward's shot went to Hitchcock at the right post and her shot trickled behind Shain to Faber at the far post.
UConn's Natalie Vibert pulled the Huskies within 2-1 at 17:41 when her shot from the right faceoff circle sailed inside the far post. Leslie Hurlburt was credited with an assist.
The Wildcats maintained that one-goal advantage and increased it to 3-1 on Hitchcock's 19th goal of the season, a power-play tally at 17:07 of the middle stanza. Bellamy made a crossing pass along the blue line to Garland at the left point and she touched the puck forward to Wright-Ward, whose shot from the left circle was tipped under the crossbar by Hitchcock in the low slot.
Bourdon made three saves in the opening 68 seconds of the third period as the Huskies opened the stanza on the power play, and then Bourdon stoned Britney Chandler from close range after she snuck behind UNH's defense three minutes in. Faber, with the assistance of Hitchcock and Becky Peters (Dover, N.H.), and Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario), from Lindsay Hansen (Northport, N.Y.) and Garland, netted third-period goals 1:23 apart - at 12:52 and 14:15 - to close the scoring. The tally was Craig's 19th of the year and extended her point-scoring streak to six games.
UNH's penalty kill was perfect for the fifth consecutive game and is 19-for-19 in that span. The Wildcats went 2-for-4 on the power play.
New Hampshire and Connecticut conclude the home-and-home series Feb. 19 at UNH's Whittemore Center. Game time is 2 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at www.unhwildcats.com/tickets.