– Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario)
recorded a goal and an assist to lead the third-ranked University
of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to a 3-3 tie against
Niagara University at the Whittemore Center on Saturday
UNH extended its unbeaten streak vs. the Purple Eagles to 15 games (14-0-1) and is now 4-0-1 this season. Niagara is 1-2-2.
The Wildcats built a 3-0 advantage in the first period. Paige Goloubef (Oakville, Ontario) recorded her first collegiate point when she scored off a rebound in front of the net at 6:18. Birchard carried the puck through the neutral zone to the top of the right circle. Her slapshot sailed wide of the near post and ricocheted to Goloubef in front.
Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.) netted her third goal of the season with a power-play tally at 12:42. Kelly Cahill (Farmington Hills, Mich.), from the low slot, batted the puck to the right post, where Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) was denied by Niagara goaltender Jenni Bauer. The puck rebounded to the left side, however, where Horn shot the puck into the net.
Birchard struck 2:04 later to extend the lead to 3-0. Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) advanced the puck to Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.) at the left point, and Sheary swung the puck across to Birchard at the right point. Birchard’s shot caromed off the inside of the left post and into the net.
UNH carried that three-goal lead and a 12-3 shot advantage into the first intermission.
Niagara opened the second period on the power play and pulled within 3-1 at 1:02 to mark the first power-play goal surrendered by the Wildcats in 23 shorthanded situations this season. Frances McPhail scored from a scrum in front of the net and Jennifer MacLean was credited with an assist.
The Purple Eagles generated two other dangerous scoring opportunities in the second stanza. With seven minutes on the clock, a Niagara rush produced a shot by Jenna Hendrikx shot in the low slot, but she was denied by UNH goalie Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas). One minute later, NU caught the ‘Cats in a line change to spring Caitlin Jenkins behind the defense. Jenkins didn’t control the puck cleanly and her shot from the slot was turned aside by Minton.
Niagara pulled even, 3-3, with goals 4:11 apart in the third period. MacLean pulled the visitors within one goal at 11:40 when she redirected Jocey Kleiber’s shot from the right point into the net. Mary McKinnon was credited with an assist on that power-play goal.
Sarah Zacharias leveled the score when her blast from the right half-boards eluded Minton and the puck trickled across the goal line. Jenkins set up the game-tying goal.
In the closing minutes, Bauer kept the score deadlocked when she stoned Sarah Cuthbert (East Falmouth, Mass.) at the right post.
The Purple Eagles were whistled for a penalty at 1:30 of the five minute overtime session. The ‘Cats sustained pressure and Paton was denied twice at the right post by Bauer during the two-minute skater advantage.
In the waning seconds, UNH had possession in the offensive zone and Birchard fired a shot from the high slot that sailed wide of the left post.
The Wildcats recorded a 3-0 shot advantage in OT and had a 27-23 edge overall.
New Hampshire and Niagara conclude the weekend series Oct. 18 at the Whittemore Center. Game time is 2 p.m.