UNH women's hockey receives New England honors
Sadie Wright-Ward

BOSTON -- Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) and Brian McCloskey of the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team were named Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year, respectively, by the New England Hockey Writers, the organization announced Tuesday. Wright-Ward was joined on the 2005-06 New England All-Star Team by teammates Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec), Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) and Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario).

The New England Hockey All-Star Team and other individual award winners will be honored at the hockey writers' annual banquet that will be held April 13 at the Prince of Pizza Restaurant (Saugus, Mass.).

McCloskey, named one of six finalists for the AHCA Coach of the Year award earlier this month, guided UNH to its first appearance in the NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Championship in 2006 by winning the Hockey East regular season and tournament titles. The Wildcats broke the school single-season benchmark for wins by finishing with a 33-3-1 record that included 19-1-1 in Hockey East.

Under McCloskey's direction, UNH led the nation in offense (4.81 gpg), defense (1.14 gpg), scoring margin (+3.68), power play (30.9%), combined special teams (58.6%) and winning percentage (.905). The 'Cats also boasted winning streaks of 17 and 11 games as part of a 29-game unbeaten streak. McCloskey was also named Coach of the Year by Hockey East for the second consecutive year and third time in the league's four-year existence.

Wright-Ward, an AHCA All-America First Team and Hockey East Player of the Year selection as a sophomore forward, ranked fourth in the nation in points (1.65 ppg), sixth in assists (0.89 apg) and seventh in goals (0.76 gpg), as well as ninth in power-play goals (eight) and 22nd in game-winning goals (four).

Wright-Ward ranked second on the team in goals (28), assists (33), points (61), power-play goals, game-winning goals and plus/minus (+46). She led the 'Cats in faceoff wins and winning percentage, and also ranked fifth in shooting percentage. Wright-Ward's numbers rank 16th on UNH's single-season goals list, 11th in assists and 13th in points.

Bourdon, the Hockey East Goaltending Champion for the third consecutive year as a junior, led the nation in wins (28) and winning percentage (.891). She also ranked second in goals-against-average (1.18), fourth in minutes (1924:07) and 10th in save percentage (.924). She broke the school record for both consecutive shutouts (four) and consecutive shutout minutes (341:49).

Bourdon's statistics rank among some of the best single-season efforts in the program's history. Her 28 wins tied the single-season record and her 2006 numbers also ranked first in GAA, second in shutouts (10), fifth in save percentage and fifth in minutes.

Garland, an AHCA All-America First Team selection as a sophomore defenseman, is the national leader in defenseman scoring at 1.09 points per game, a number that ranks 25th overall. She is also No. 3 in the nation in assists at 0.94 per game. Garland ranked third on the team in assists (32) and fourth in points (37) to lead UNH blueliners in both statistics. She also recorded an impressive plus/minus rating of +30. Garland anchored UNH's defensive unit that recorded a school-record six consecutive shutouts and ranked fourth in the nation in penalty kill (.905).

Hitchcock, an AHCA All-America Second Team selection as a sophomore forward, finished the 2006 season ranked No. 1 in the nation in both points per game (1.78) and power-play goals (14). She also ranked among the top 10 in assists (second; 0.97 per game), goals (third; 0.81 per game), game-winning goals (10th; five) and shorthanded goals (10th; two).

Hitchcock led UNH in goals (30), assists (36) and points (66) to become the first Wildcat since Michelle Thornton in 2001 to lead the team in all three statistics. On UNH's list of single-season superlatives, those numbers rank tied for seventh in goals, ninth in assists and 10th in points. Hitchcock also led the 'Cats in both power-play goals and shorthanded goals, and she was third in both plus/minus (+39) and shooting percentage (.190).

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