The University of New Hampshire women’s hockey team, which has an 11-2-0 overall record with a 7-0-0 mark in Hockey East, has ascended to No. 1 in both national polls for the second time this season. The Wildcats play host to Niagara University (6-2-2) of the CHA for a two-game series from Nov. 24-25. Both games begin at 1 p.m.

UNH has a 16-3-0 lifetime record, including last year’s two-game sweep at the Whittemore Center, against Niagara. The Wildcats have won 10 straight in the series dating back to the Purple Eagles’ three-game season-series sweep of the Wildcats in 2002; UNH’s current winning streak coincides with Brian McCloskey moving into the head coach position; three of those 10 wins have been by shutout. The ‘Cats have an 8-1-0 home record vs. Niagara.

In last year’s series, UNH opened the season with a 5-0 victory against the Purple Eagles, then the visitors pushed the Wildcats to overtime before falling 4-3. The Wildcats went 3-for-8 on the power play and recorded a 45-7 shot advantage in the opener. UNH was 0-for-12 with the skater advantage in the overtime win; Niagara held first-period leads of 1-0 and 2-1, then rallied to tie the score at 3 in the middle stanza; the ‘Cats generated a 42-14 shot advantage in that game.

    Senior defenseman Martine Garland was named TPS Hockey Player of the Week and freshman goaltender Kayley Herman received the Mission Rookie of the Week award from Hockey East on Monday. The Wildcat duo stymied Wisconsin’s fourth-ranked offense (3.92 gpg) to a total of two goals in a pair of 2-1 wins last weekend.

Garland matched her career high of two goals to propel UNH to Sunday’s victory and a weekend sweep of (then) top-ranked Wisconsin. She gave the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead at 1:51 of the first period, then broke a 1-1 tie and scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 4:45 of the final frame.

Herman backboned UNH’s defensive effort by stopping 41 of 43 shots for a .953 save percentage and 1.01 goals-against-average. Sunday’s 22-save effort was one less than her personal best of 23.

    Martine Garland received her second award of the week on Nov. 20 when she was honored as Women’s Hockey Division I Defensive Player of the Week by USCHO in recognition of her stellar play in the Wisconsin series.

    New Hampshire, ranked No. 1 in the nation, enters the weekend with an 11-2-0 overall record that includes 7-0-0 in Hockey East and 7-1-0 at home. The Wildcats have not faced a CHA league team this season; last year, the Wildcats went 3-0-0 vs. the CHA with two wins against Niagara and another against Wayne State.

The ‘Cats average 32.7 shots per game while yielding just 15.5 per game.

UNH has won each of its last three meetings against the No. 1-ranked team and all three victories have been against Wisconsin by a 2-1 score.

UNH’s highest scoring period is the third (20 goals, compared to 13 in the first and 10 in the second) despite the fact that it is the period with their lowest shot total (132 in comparison to 148 and 145).

The Wildcats have had 11 wins through 13 games in each of the last three seasons. They are 11-2-0 this year, went 11-1-1 last season and started 11-2-0 in the 2005-06 season.

UNH has not played overtime yet this season; one year ago, the Wildcats went into OT seven times and that included the second game of the season against Niagara.

The ‘Cats have scored less than three goals in three consecutive games. The last time that happened was January 2005.

    Leah Craig scored her 50th career goal with last Saturday’s tally against Wisconsin. She is one of 29 UNH Wildcats who has recorded 50+ goals and 50+ assists in a career. Craig attained two other personal milestones this season with her 50th career assist at Boston University (Nov. 1) and 100th career point at Vermont (Nov. 3).

Sadie Wright-Ward and Sam Faber are also on the verge of joining the 50-50 Club. Wright-Ward enters the Niagara series with 49 goals and 71 assists while Faber has 47 goals and 68 assists.

Julia Marty scored her first collegiate goal last Saturday vs. Wisconsin and that proved to be the game-winning goal.

Jennifer Hitchcock enters the weekend with 141 career points to rank 15th on UNH’s career leaderboard. Current assistant coach Stephanie Jones is directly ahead of Hitchcock at 142. Hitchcock is the only Wildcat with an active multiple-game point-scoring streak – at two games; she has a point in seven of the last eight games.

    For the first time since the building opened for the 1996 season, there were 1,000+ fans in consecutive women’s hockey regular-season games at the Whittemore Center when 1,196 fans were in attendance Nov. 17 and 1,226 fans attended the Nov. 18 game; both tilts were vs. then-No. 1 Wisconsin.
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