BOSTON - Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario), the reigning Hockey East Player of the Week, recorded two points and Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas), the reigning Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week, stopped 21 of 22 shots to lift the fourth-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Sunday afternoon's 2-1 victory against seventh-ranked Northeastern University in Hockey East action at Matthews Arena.
UNH, which has now won 25 consecutive meetings in this series, extended its national-best active unbeaten streak to eight games (5-0-3) to improve to 10-1-4 overall and 5-0-1-0 in Hockey East. Northeastern moves to 10-3-2, 6-2-2-1.
Paton scored an unassisted shorthanded goal late in the first period and set up the game-winning goal, a shorthanded tally by Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) with 3:27 remaining in regulation. Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) extended her point-scoring streak to eight games with a secondary assist on Birchard's goal.
Minton made 11 of her 21 saves in the second period and stopped all four of NU's third-period shots en route to holding the Huskies scoreless on four power-play opportunities. NU counterpart Florence Schelling finished with 30 saves, including 14 in the second stanza.
The Wildcats generated a 10-6 shot advantage in the first period and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. NU had the first dangerous scoring opportunity in the sixth minute of the game as a UNH giveaway in its defensive zone led to a Brittany Esposito wrist shot from the slot that Minton blocked aside.
In the eighth minute, Long stole the puck at mid-ice and skated from the left point to the slot, where her initial shot was blocked. Long corralled the puck, however, continued to the right circle and fired a shot that Schelling enveloped.
UNH created a rush midway through the opening stanza in which Paton was denied off the left doorstep and Long's shot off the rebound from the low slot was also stopped by Schelling. Off the ensuing faceoff, NU's Kristi Kehoe was stoned by Minton on a breakaway.
The Huskies went on the power play at 10:57, but the Wildcats generated the best scoring opportunity in the next two minutes when a clear by Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.) was collected by Paton on the right side, and she executed an indirect pass off the boards to herself to elude an NU player and create a breakaway. Paton shifted across the low slot, but Schelling extended her right leg pad to deny the stuff attempt at the left post.
The Wildcat line of Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario), Julie Allen (Brampton, Ontario) and Kelly Cahill (Farmington Hills, Mich.) generated a rush with two minutes remaining in the first period. Lavoie advanced the puck from the neutral zone to Allen, who skated to the right circle and made a centering pass to Cahill. Her low shot was snared by Schelling.
New Hampshire took a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal - the team's second of the season - at 19:27. Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.) carried the puck behind the net, and when NU attempted to clear the puck out of the zone, Paton poke-checked the puck free into the neutral zone and gained possession. She maneuvered to the slot, shifted to the right around a defenseman and lifted a shot over Schelling's leg pad into the net.
Northeastern tied the score, 1-1, 58 seconds into the second period. Off a faceoff on the right wing, Julia Marty made a pass from the dashers to Kelly Wallace in the near circle. Wallace's shot was stopped by Minton, but Kehoe corralled the rebound in the low slot and lifted a shot into the open left side.
In the seventh minute, Paton saucered a pass from the top of the right circle to the slot, where Horn fired a shot that caromed off the right post.
Midway through the second period, Schelling stopped a UNH barrage that included Long's shot from the right circle and Paton's shot off the rebound. The ‘Cats sustained pressure with another Paton shot from the slot blocked by Schelling and the goalie slid to the right post to also deny Allen at the doorstep.
With 6:30 remaining in the middle stanza, Paton once again saucered a centering pass from the top of the right circle. The charging Horn pushed the puck forward to Long, whose shot from the inner-left circle was turned away by the NU goaltender.
Two minutes later, Kehoe slipped behind the Wildcats' defense but Minton, with the help of backchecking by Katie Brock (Marblehead, Mass.), thwarted the shot at the top of the crease to preserve the 1-1 tie.
With 7:30 to play in the third period, Long led a UNH charge and at the left point advanced the puck to Paton in the circle. Paton quickly threw the puck across the slot, but Schelling moved across the crease to deny Allen's bid at the right doorstep.
One minute later, Long won a
faceoff to the right dashers and Horn swung the puck back to the
point, where Birchard blasted a slap shot through traffic that was
stopped by Schelling.
The Wildcats generated another scoring opportunity in the 15th minute when Long's indirect pass off the left boards was corralled by Horn in the neutral zone. Horn carried the puck to the left circle, collected her own rebound in the slot and lofted a shot wide right.
The Huskies went on their fourth power play of the game at 16:07, but New Hampshire netted its second shorthanded goal of the day 26 seconds later to take a 2-1 lead. Long won the battle for control of the puck on the left dashers and pushed the puck to Paton in the circle. Paton slid a pass back to Birchard at the point, and her blast sailed into the net.
NU then generated some pressure on its power play, and Minton made a right-leg pad save on Esposito's shot from the slot through traffic.
Schelling was pulled in favor of an extra skater with 60 seconds remaining. Minton again denied Esposito with 35 seconds on the clock and UNH cleared the puck out of the zone. The Wildcats prevented the Huskies from advancing through the neutral zone and, with just 9.4 seconds remaining, forced an offsides call against the home team. Paton won that faceoff back into the UNH zone, but the puck was quickly sent back to mid-ice to secure the victory.
The next matchup in this series is the historic Jan. 8, 2010 game at Fenway Park as part of a Hockey East doubleheader. The four o'clock game will be the first outdoor collegiate women's ice hockey game in NCAA history.
New Hampshire returns to action
Dec. 5 at home against nemesis Providence College. Game time is 2
p.m. and tickets are available at the Whittemore Center box office,
online at www.unhwildcats.com or via
The UNH athletic department's annual "Toys for Tots" campaign will be held at the Dec. 5 game. Marines will be on hand to collect the new, unwrapped toys.