DURHAM, N.H. – Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) recorded a career-high three points with a goal and two assists and Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) netted her 50th career goal to propel the No. 1-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon’s 6-2 non-conference victory against Niagara University at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, coming off last weekend’s sweep of previously top-ranked University of Wisconsin, improved to 12-2-0 overall and 8-1-0 at home with the win vs. the Purple Eagles. Niagara, which has lost 11 straight to UNH and is 3-17-0 overall vs. the Wildcats, had its three-game winning streak snapped and is now 6-3-2.
Including Long, who matched her personal best of two assists, five Wildcats recorded multiple points. Wright-Ward, Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) and Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) each tallied a goal and an assist, and Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) finished with two assists.
Wright-Ward netted her 50th career goal on her sixth goal of the season, an even-strength-goal at 5:42 of the third period in which she converted Hitchcock’s centering pass to the low slot into a 5-2 Wildcats’ lead. Wright-Ward now has 50 goals and 72 assists for 122 points in 123 career games.
UNH goaltender Lucy Schoedel (Ithaca, N.Y.) surrendered two goals on six first-period shots but earned the victory. Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) played the final 40 minutes in net and stopped all 11 shots she faced. NU starting goalie Nikki Rudy made 31 saves and yielded six goals in 52:13; she was charged with the loss. Jill Zelonis played the last 7:47 and made three saves.
The Wildcats took an early 1-0 lead on a power-play goal at 5:12 of the first period when Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario), unmarked in the left circle, scored into the open near side of the net. Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario), with the cross-ice pass from the right circle, and Long set up the tally.
Niagara then capitalized on its power-play opportunities with goals 31 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead. Christina Jablonski, with the assistance of Mary McKinnon, struck first at 7:16 on a screened shot from the high slot with two Wildcats in the penalty box. Mallory Yorkson then scored from the top of the crease at 7:47; Alison Malty and Lisa Agozzino were credited with assists.
UNH converted its second power play of the opening stanza to tie the score, 2-2, at 14:04 on a tally by Steph Holmes (Rye, N.Y.) that was set up by Long and Craig. Another sequence of quick passes resulted in the Wildcats’ third goal of the stanza at 15:42. Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) initiated the sequence at the right point and advanced the puck to Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) in the right circle. Wakefield quickly snapped a pass across the slot and Faber scored into the open left side of the net.
The ‘Cats took that 3-2 lead and a 17-6 shot advantage into the first intermission. The home team extended its lead to 4-2 with its third power-play goal of the game, a tally by Hitchcock at the top of the crease at 15:43 of the second period. Wright-Ward, with the pass from the left corner, and Faber – left circle to the corner – set up that goal.
Following Wright-Ward’s milestone goal, which was also set up by Craig, an individual effort by Long closed the scoring at 12:13 of the final frame. Long intercepted a clearing attempt near the right point and eluded the defense while skating down the slot before firing a shot into the net.
UNH finished the game 3-for-5 on the power play and Niagara converted 2 of 3 power-play opportunities. The ‘Cats also recorded a 40-17 shot advantage.
New Hampshire and Niagara conclude the two-game series Nov. 25 (1 p.m.) at the Whittemore Center. Tickets are available online at www.unhwildcats.com. Videostreaming of the event is available online at UNHwildcats.tv.