– Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) recorded
a goal and two assists to lift the fourth-ranked University of New
Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Saturday evening’s
3-1 victory against the University of Connecticut in Hockey East
action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, which improved to 6-0-1 at home this year, is now 6-1-2 overall and 2-0-0-0 in Hockey East, with both league games against UConn. The Huskies, who are winless in the last 15 games (0-13-2) vs. the Wildcats, fall to 4-4-1, 0-2-1-0.
UConn took a 1-0 lead at 12:12 of the first period when Jody Sydor’s shot from the left point was redirected by Michelle Binning, and the puck knuckled through traffic into the upper-right corner of the net. Amy Hollstein, with the initial pass to Sydor from the left half-boards, was also credited with an assist.
The Huskies led by the one-goal margin at the first intermission with the shots level, 8-8.
UNH leveled the score, 1-1, just one minute into the second stanza. Kelly Cahill (Farmington Hills, Mich.), from the right circle, moved the puck to Paton on the right side of the slot. Paton’s shot caromed off a defenseman but continued towards the goal and, from the front doorstep, Cahill forced the puck past UConn goaltender Jennie Bellonio. Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) was also credited with an assist.
In the seventh minute, UConn’s Monique Weber fended off a defenseman down the slot and wristed a shot towards the right post that UNH goalie Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas) blocked aside with her left leg pad.
The Wildcats were whistled for a minor penalty at 16:16, but then the Huskies went to the penalty box at 16:55 and 17:28 to give UNH a 5-on-3 power play. New Hampshire capitalized just 13 seconds into that two-skater advantage to take a 2-1 lead at 18:27. Paton and Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) exchanged multiple passes through the high slot, then Birchard’s shot sailed through traffic to the back of the net.
UConn went on its fifth power-play opportunity of the game just 20 seconds into the third period, but the Wildcats successfully killed off that shorthanded opportunity and scored just five seconds later to build a 3-1 advantage at 2:25. Long won the puck on the left wing and made a centering pass to Paton, who maneuvered down the slot and deked Bellonio to slide a shot between her leg pads into the net.
Just four minutes later, however, UConn’s Lisa Stathopulos skated warded off a defender down the slot and wristed a shot from close range that Minton enveloped.
With the teams skating four a side for 1:43 at 17:21, UConn called time out and pulled Bellonio in favor of an extra skater. The Huskies could not maintain pressure in the offensive zone, however, before Bellonio re-entered the game at 18:38. She went to the bench again at 18:54 to once again create a 5-on-4 situation, but UNH’s defensive effort kept the visitors at bay, even when they had a 6-on-4 advantage for 17 seconds in the last minute of the game.
Minton finished with 18 saves, while Bellonio stopped 21 shots in 57:37 of action.
Paton has now recorded a point in all nine games this season and Long has a point in eight of nine games.
With the win, UNH remaines unbeaten in Hockey East home games (64-0-9) since the league’s inception in the 2003 season.
New Hampshire returns to action at home Nov. 1 against the University of Maine. The “White out the Whitt” game begins at 3 p.m.