The University of New Hampshire women’s hockey team, which has a 16-3-0 overall record with a 9-0-0 mark in Hockey East, is ranked No. 2 in both national polls. The Wildcats play host to No. 1-ranked Harvard University (11-0-0 overall, 9-0-0 ECAC) on Friday (7 p.m.) at the Whittemore Center.

This matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 features three student-athletes from the Granite State and three UNH alums on the coaching staffs. UNH senior forward Sadie Wright-Ward hails from Durham while Harvard’s roster includes senior forward Laura Brady (Hudson) and freshman defenseman Kate Buesser (Wolfeboro). The Wildcats’ coaching staff includes associate head coach Erin Whitten Hamlen (‘93) and assistant coach Stephanie Jones (‘05); Harvard’s has head coach Katey Stone (‘89).

UNH has a 26-12-2 lifetime record, including last year’s 3-3 road tie, against Harvard University. In last year’s game, Jennifer Hitchcock netted a pair of third-period goals (at 6:30 and 16:53) to lift the Wildcats into a 3-3 tie; UNH recorded a 36-22 shot advantage and both teams went 1-for-5 on the power play.

UNH is 4-0-1 in the last five meetings and that includes three wins in the 2006 season, when the Wildcats shut out the Crimson (3-0) at Harvard, were 5-1 victors at home and ousted Harvard from the NCAA tournament with a 3-1 win at the Whittemore Center. Prior to UNH’s recent unbeaten streak in the series, Harvard won 12 consecutive games vs. the Wildcats from the 1999–2004 seasons.

The ‘Cats have a 14-5-0 edge at home and that includes 7-5-0 at the Whittemore Center.

These teams faced off for the 1999 AWCHA (American Women’s College Hockey Alliance) national championship in Minneapolis and Harvard prevailed 6-5 in overtime.

UNH VS. #1
    New Hampshire has fared well in recent seasons against the top-ranked team in the nation. This season, the Wildcats swept a two-game home series against then No. 1 Wisconsin on Nov. 17-18. Prior to this year, the last time UNH faced off against a #1-ranked team was Nov. 27, 2005, when the ‘Cats defeated Wisconsin. All three games ended with a 2-1 score.


    New Hampshire, ranked No. 2 in the national polls, enters the weekend with a 16-3-0 overall record that includes 9-0-0 in Hockey East, 10-1-0 at home and 2-2-0 vs. the ECAC.

Following consecutive games vs. sixth-ranked Mercyhurst College, Friday night’s game will mark the first time in the 2008 season that UNH plays three consecutive games against a nationally-ranked opponent; the Wildcats are 7-2-0 against nationally-ranked teams and that includes two wins against then-No. 1 Wisconsin.

Mercyhurst was unbeaten in 37 consecutive regular-season home games (32-0-5) dating back to Nov. 30, 2005, before UNH upended the Lakers 5-2 last Saturday. MC had not yielded that many goals in a home game since Feb. 2, 2003 (vs. Harvard).

UNH scored four power-play goals in a game for the third time this season when the ‘Cats went 4-for-12 last Saturday at Mercyhurst. Seven of the team’s eight goals in that series were scored on special teams (six PP; one SH).

The Wildcats surrendered a season single-high four goals to Mercyhurst last Friday; the Wildcats had yielded a total of three goals in the previous three games.

UNH’s 17 penalties and 50 penalty minutes last Saturday at MC both marked team records.

The ‘Cats trailed by two goals in both of last weekend’s games; in the first 17 games of the season, the ‘Cats trailed by two goals at any point of a game just once (Oct. 6 at St. Lawrence).

    New Hampshire opened the 2008 season with three consecutive games against ECAC representatives and went 2-1-0 in those games; the ‘Cats have also lost to Princeton for a 2-2-0 mark vs. that conference. The Wildcats opened with a two-game road series at St. Lawrence University and returned home with a split, then defeated Colgate University at home.

UNH has three more scheduled games, including Friday’s tilt vs. Harvard, against the ECAC. The Wildcats open the 2008 year at Brown on Jan. 5 and also travel to Dartmouth on Jan. 17 for their last non-conference game of the regular season.

    New Hampshire is second to none when it comes to Hockey East rankings. The Wildcats lead the league in offense, defense, power play, penalty kill and shots.

In addition, a number of Wildcats are on the league leaderboard. Six of the top seven point scorers, led by Sam Faber at No. 1, wear the UNH Blue and White. Jenn Wakefield is Hockey East’s top rookie point producer. Four of the top seven goal scorers – Faber leads the way – and six of the top nine assist leaders – Faber at #1 followed by Leah Craig and Kelly Paton at #2 – are Wildcats. Furthermore, six of the top 10 in plus/minus (Faber and Paton are the top two) don the UNH jersey. With regards to power play, Sadie Wright-Ward and Jennifer Hitchcock are 1-2 and are joined by two teammates in the top six in power-play points; Hitchcock is #1 in power-play goals and is one of five ‘Cats in the top nine in that statistic.

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