DURHAM, N.H. – Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) recorded her 100th career point in a two-goal effort and propelled the fifth-ranked University of New Hamsphire women’s ice hockey team to Saturday night’s 4-1 victory against Providence College at the Whittemore Center.
With the victory, the Wildcats clinched at least a share of the Hockey East regular-season title – UNH has won the league regular-season title every year since 2004 – and the top seed in the upcoming Hockey East Championship tournament. New Hampshire’s Whittemore Center will be the site of the semifinal and final rounds March 7-8.
UNH, which defeated the Friars 3-2 on the road Friday night, won its 10th consecutive game to improve to 19-5-5 overall and 14-2-3 in Hockey East. Providence is now 16-14-2, 11-7-1.
Paton entered the game with 99 career points and became the 41st UNH Wildcat to attain the 100-point milestone with her power-play goal at 4:48 of the first period that gave UNH a 1-0 lead. She also scored the game-winning goal at 13:58 of the second stanza when her power-play tally broke a 1-1 tie.
Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) also scored twice for the Wildcats and Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) tallied three assists. Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas), who played in back-to-back games for the first time, made 16 saves. PC goalie Genevieve Lacasse was also credited with 16 saves.
Paton, with the assistance of Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) and Bellamy, gave the ‘Cats an early one-goal lead on a shot from the right circle.
Providence pulled even, 1-1, when Kate Bacon scored at 14:24 from the left side off a rebound. Alyse Ruff, with the initial shot, and Erin Normore set up the power-play goal.
The score remained tied until Paton netted her second power-play goal of the night – and 20th goal of the season – in the middle stanza. Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) initiated the sequence with a pass from the right corner to Bellamy, and she fired a low shot towards the right post that Paton redirected into the cage.
Wakefield extended UNH’s lead to 3-1 at 17:26 of the second period when she scored off a rebound in the low slot. Angela Taylor (Paisley, Scotland), with the initial shot from the high slot, and Kelly Cahill (Farmington Hills, Mich.) set up the goal.
New Hampshire took that two-goal advantage into the second period and Wakefield’s second strike pushed the lead to 4-1 at 3:45 of the final frame. Bellamy snapped a pass from the defensive blue line through the neutral zone to an isolated Wakefield at the opposite blue line. Wakefield skated alone down the slot, deked Lacasse and scored from close range.
The Friars had an opportunity to cut into that deficit when the ‘Cats were whistled for penalties at 5:34 and 6:06 to give PC a two-skater advantage for 88 seconds. PC called time out at 6:06 and also pulled Lacasse in favor of an extra skater to give the visitors a 6-on-3 advantage.
Minton immediately stopped a barrage of four shots, including two by Bacon, to preserve the three-goal lead. Lacasse re-entered the game at 7:28 and one UNH skater returned from the penalty box six seconds later to make it a 5x4 power play for 32 seconds. New Hampshire’s penalty kill surrendered just one shot in that span.
PC went on its sixth power play of the night at 11:52 but did not record a shot on Minton in that two minutes of action.
Paton now has 42 goals and 59 assists for 101 points in 102 career games. She has a point in nine of the last 10 games with totals of 11-8-19. Wakefield also has a point in 9 of 10 with 13-5-18 and Faber has a point in 8 of 10 with 3-15-18.
UNH is 11-0-3 overall at home this season and 59-0-9 in Hockey East regular-season home games since the inception of the league in 2003.
New Hampshire will return to action at Harvard on Tuesday, Feb. 17 (7 p.m.). The Wildcats will conclude the regular season next weekend with a home-and-home series against University of Connecticut. The Wildcats hit the road Feb. 21 (1 p.m.) and will have Senior Day at home on Feb. 22 (2 p.m.).