#3 WOMEN'S HOCKEY EDGED BY #4 DARTMOUTH, 4-2

BOXSCORE 

HANOVER, N.H.Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) and Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) both recorded a goal and an assist, but the third-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s hockey team was upended by fourth-ranked Dartmouth College, 4-2, Saturday afternoon at Thompson Arena.

            UNH, which entered the game with a six-game unbeaten streak and a 3-0-3 record vs. ECAC teams this season, is now 17-3-3 overall. Dartmouth, which skated to a 3-3 tie with the Wildcats at UNH by virtue of a last-minute goal on Dec. 10, improved to 15-4-2.

            While on the penalty kill and trailing 4-0 at the outset of the third period, Paton was denied by DC goaltender Carli Clemis on a breakaway and the goalie also stopped Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) off the rebound. Clemis also made a strong leg-pad save at the left post against Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) at 3:15, then denied both Hitchcock and Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) at the right post with the ‘Cats on the power play at 5:30.

            New Hampshire continued its offensive pressure, however, and produced a power-play goal at 6:35 to pull within 4-1. Clemis stopped the initial slap shot from the left point by Maggie Joyce (Norfolk, Mass.) and the second shot by Paton at the left post but could not deny Craig at the right post.

            UNH’s offensive resurgence continued, but once again Clemis proved to be the Big Green’s best penalty killer by turning aside successive shots by Hitchcock and Bellamy at the right post midway through the stanza.

            Undaunted, the ‘Cats sustained pressure and trimmed the deficit to 4-2 with another power-play goal at 14:36. From the right circle, Paton swept across the slot and fired the puck into the open left side of the net. Craig was credited with an assist on the play.

            Minutes later, New Hampshire generated another flurry in which Hitchcock was stopped twice at the top of the crease and Craig was turned aside at the right post.

            The Wildcats’ flourish was quelled in the last two minutes when they were whistled for two penalties.

            UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec) finished with 21 saves. Clemis was credited with 30 saves, including 16 in the third period.

            New Hampshire pressured in the opening seconds of the game but DC Clemis tied up the puck, and off the ensuing faceoff Dartmouth went on a quick counterattack in which Shannon Bowman, at the top of the crease, scored off a rebound into the open left side at 46 seconds. Bourdon had stopped Maggie Kennedy’s initial shot deep in the right circle.

            The Big Green extended its lead to 2-0 at 7:16 when Gillian Apps utilized her speed to surge ahead of a Wildcat defenseman and fended off that defender down the slot before shooting the puck between Bourdon’s legpads.

            The Wildcats had two power-play opportunities in the latter half of the opening stanza, but they could neither sustain offensive pressure nor cut into Dartmouth’s lead and the home team took a two-goal advantage into the first intermission.

            UNH called time out at 4:37 of the second period at the beginning of an abbreviated 5-on-3 power play of nine seconds. The ‘Cats were able to sustain some pressure, but then a turnover at the blue line led to a Katie Weatherston breakaway. She skated down the slot before shifting to her forehand and lifting the puck under the crossbar for a 3-0 lead at 5:58.

            Jenna Cunningham extended the difference to 4-0 at 10:31 of the middle stanza when she scored off her own rebound in a scrum in front of the net.

            The ‘Cats generated some dangerous scoring opportunities in the closing minutes of the period, including a chance by Lindsey Caleo (Clinton Township, Mich.) when she stole the puck near the right post and fired a quick shot, as well as a screened shot by Jackie Wedster (Chicago, Ill.) from the left point. Minutes later, Faber was denied in the slot on a quick shot off a faceoff. Despite the late pressure, UNH trailed 4-0 at the end of two.

            New Hampshire returns to action Jan. 27 at Providence College and the teams face off again Jan. 28 at the Whittemore Center. Both games start at 2 p.m.

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