DURHAM, N.H. – Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) tallied a goal and an assist and Lucy Schoedel (Ithaca, N.Y.) stopped all 12 shots she faced to propel the No. 2 University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Sunday afternoon’s 3-0 Hockey East victory against the University of Vermont at the Whittemore Center.
UNH clinched a share of the Hockey East regular-season title by improving to 16-0-1 in the league and extending its Hockey East unbeaten streak (including postseason) to 36 games at 33-0-3. The Wildcats are now 26-3-1 overall in ‘08 with six consecutive wins and a 12-game unbeaten streak (11-0-1). UVM is now 5-24-1, 1-15-1.
Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) quickly gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead with her 20th goal of the season 39 seconds into the game. Wakefield gained possession in the slot, charged the goal and deked UVM goaltender Kristen Olychuck before tucking the puck inside the left post. Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) and Hitchcock were credited with assists.
With two Catamounts in the penalty box, Hitchcock scored her national-leading 12th power-play goal of the season at 19:23 of the opening stanza when she roofed a shot from a scrum at the top of the crease. Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) and Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) were credited with assists, and that marker extended Wright-Ward’s point-scoring streak to 10 games.
Midway through the second period, UVM’s Brittany Nelson was denied twice at the left doorstep by Schoedel with the Catamounts on the power play. Less than one minute after killing the visitor’s power-play opportunity, New Hampshire extended its advantage to 3-0. Angela Taylor (Paisely, Scotland) stopped a wraparound clearing attempt at the left half-boards and moved the puck back to the point, where Julia Marty (Nussbaumen, Switzerland) sent a fluttering shot into the upper-right corner of the net at 11:23.
The Catamounts generated a 2-on-1 rush shortly thereafter. Nelson carried the puck into the right circle and fired a shot that was turned aside by Schoedel. UNH was on the power play for four of the last five minutes of the second period but was unable to extend its lead. In fact, UVM generated a dangerous shorthanded bid in which Karen Sentoff’s shot from the slot caromed off the right post.
The 12-save effort marked Schoedel’s third shutout of the season and fifth of her career. Olychuck recorded double-digit saves all three periods (12-12-10) to finish with 34.
UNH’s penalty kill extended its perfect marks to 11 games and 58 consecutive kills without yielding a goal following Sunday’s 2-for-2 effort.
Hitchcock, with her six-point weekend, climbed past former U.S. Olympian Karyn Bye into eighth place on UNH’s all-time points list with 165 (86g, 79a).
The Wildcats outscored UVM 15-0 in the three-game season series. UNH has won all 18 lifetime meetings vs. the Catamounts with 13 victories by shutout.
New Hampshire returns to action Feb. 23 &24 with a home-and-home series against Providence College. The teams face off Feb. 23 (1 p.m.) at PC’s Schneider Arena and Feb. 24 (2 p.m.) at UNH’s Whittemore Center. Tickets for the Wildcats’ home game are available online at www.unhwildcats.com or by calling 1-866-WILDCAT or by visiting the Whittemore Center box office.