DURHAM, N.H. – Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) stopped 21 of 22 shots on goal to lift the fifth-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to a 3-1 victory against Providence College in the semifinal round of the Hockey East Championship Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Whittemore Center.
With the win, the Wildcats extend their winning streak to 14 games to improve to 23-5-5 on the season and advance to the Hockey East championship game on March 8 (12:30 p.m.). Providence ends its season at 17-16-3.
Providence held two separate power-play opportunities early in the game within four minutes of one another at 6:24 and 10:05. Despite the early chances, the Friars failed to find the back of the net and did not record one shot on goal on their first power play. Brittany Simpson gave the Friars their best chance of the period on Providence’s second power-play chance as she fired a rocket in between the left and right circle that was fended off by Herman.
Despite being shorthanded for the opening half of the first period, the Wildcats would pick up the action drawing first blood just seconds after going on its first power play of the contest. Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) won the faceoff to Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) on the left dashers, Faber quickly moved the puck back to Paton and then Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) sent a pass across the blue line to Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.), who fired a one-timer from the right point into the upper right hand corner of the net at 14:31.
Just moments later, the Wildcats would find the back of the net once again as Angela Taylor (Paisley, Scotland) shot the puck from the left point and Julie Allen (Brampton, Ont.) snagged the puck off the rebound and punched it in between PC goalie Genevieve Lacasse and the right side of the post at 15:54. Maggie Joyce (Hudson, Ohio) was also credited with an assist on the tally that gave UNH a 2-0 lead.
Despite the Wildcats holding the early advantage, the Friars would more than double their shots on goal in the second period as they held the advantage in shots 16-9 against UNH in the stanza.
After knocking on the door early in the period the Friars would strike back with a goal of their own after Abby Gauthier intercepted the puck and passed it up to Erin Normore. She kicked it back to Gauthier, who put the puck past Herman on the left side of the net at 11:42.
The Friars would pick up right where they left off in the third period as they got two major scoring chances from Jennifer Friedman and Amber Yung, each of whom fired laser shots from the blue line just moments apart in the opening minutes the stanza.
Providence would continue to threaten the 2-1 UNH advantage midway through the period when Laura Veharanta shot a one-timer chance past three UNH defenders from the left circle above the head of Herman and into her glove. Moments later, Veharanta would give the Friars another chance at catching the back of the net when she fired a shot from the right circle that hit off the pad of Herman and bounced around near the net for a moment but was pushed out of the zone by New Hampshire.
Despite making a late charge at tying the game up, the Wildcats would wipe away any chance of a comeback as Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) found open space in front of the net and received a pass from Faber at the left circle and found the back of the net at 13:29, putting away the Friars for good. Paton was credited with her second assist of the game.
Providence finished the game 0-6 on the power plays for the contest, totaling just three shots on power-play chances. As for UNH, they finished 1-5 on power plays with six shots.
Despite giving up three goals in the contest, Geneviev Lacasse finished the game with 25 saves, including a total of 10 in the first period and nine in the third.
The Wildcats return to action on Sunday when they take on the winner of the semifinal matchup between Boston University and Boston College for the Hockey East Championship at the Whittemore Center at 12:30 p.m.