MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.  – The University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team was selected No. 2 in the Preseason USCHO.com Division I Women's Poll that was released Tuesday.
    The Wildcats received one first-place vote and a total of 124 points to place behind defending champion University of Wisconsin, which received 12 first-place votes and 146 points. The University of Minnesota (98 points), St. Lawrence University (90) and Mercyhurst College (82) round out the top five positions.
    New Hampshire will face six of the other top 10 teams a total of 10 times in the regular season. The ‘Cats travel to third-ranked Minnesota for an early-season matchup on Oct. 7 and play host to fourth-ranked SLU on Nov. 11-12. Fifth-ranked Mercyhurst travels to Durham for the UNH Tournament on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 25). UNH also has home-and-home games against No. 6 Dartmouth College as well as a road contest vs. seventh-ranked Harvard. Three Hockey East league games vs. 10th-ranked Boston College are also on the schedule.
    UNH returns 17 letterwinners – including three All-America selections and a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 Finalist – from last year’s team that swept the Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the Frozen Four in compiling a school-record 33 victories.
    Junior forward and tri-captain Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) led the nation in scoring a year ago at 1.78 points per game with 66 points in 37 games while Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario), another junior tri-captain, was No. 1 in scoring among defensemen at 1.09 ppg. Senior goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard Quebec) was the national leader in both wins (28) and winning percentage (.891) and ranked second in goals-against-average with a school-record mark of 1.18.
    New Hampshire, the host of the 2007 Hockey East Championship on March 3-4, opens the season with a two-game home series against Niagara University. The teams face off Sept. 29 and Sept. 30 with a seven o’clock start time for both games at the Whittemore Center.
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