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The University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team, ranked fifth in the national polls, begins postseason play this weekend at the 8th Annual Women’s Hockey East Championship. UNH faces off against Boston University in a March 6 (3 p.m.) semifinal at Providence College’s Schneider Arena.
Any game involving UNH at this weekend’s tournament will be broadcast live on the Wildcat Sports Radio Network; the game(s) will also be streamed online at www.unhwildcats.com. Both semifinal games will be videostreamed online through B2 Networks.
UNH has a 17-2-3 lifetime record, including 1-1-1 this season, against Boston University. The teams have faced off just once in postseason play – that is also the only neutral-site game in the series – and the Wildcats were 8-0 victors in the ‘08 semifinals at UConn. Since that game, the ‘Cats have a 1-2-3 record vs. the Terriers.
In the most recent meeting (Feb. 6) at the Whittemore Center, BU prevailed 5-2 despite being outshot 35-9. The Terriers took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission as UNH generated an 11-2 shot advantage. The Wildcats took a 2-1 lead in the second period but the score was tied at two at the end of two. BU reclaimed the lead early in the third and extended its advantage to 4-2 in the eighth minute. With two Terriers in the penalty box, UNH also pulled its goalie to give the ‘Cats a three-skater advantage with just under four minutes remaining. BU survived the pressure and then scored an empty-net goal to give the visitors a 5-2 advantage with 2:27 remaining.
The teams also met in a home-and-home series back in early November (6-7). In the first game at BU, the Wildcats were 4-3 victors. After falling behind 1-0, New Hampshire rallied to take a 2-1 lead. The Terriers pulled even but UNH netted the next two goals to build a 4-2 advantage. BU potted a power-play goal at 13:54 of the third period and pulled its goal in favor of an extra skater with 54 seconds remaining. The ‘Cats did not allow a shot the rest of the way, however, to secure the win.
The next night at the Whittemore Center, UNH built a 3-0 lead in the first period but BU scored twice in the second and third periods to take a 4-3 lead. Just 15 seconds after taking the lead, the Terriers were whistled for a penalty and the Wildcats made it a two-skater advantage by pulling the goalie for an extra skater and capitalized to tie the score at 4 with 54 seconds to play. Following a scoreless five-minute overtime session, BU won the shootout, 1-0, in four rounds.
PATTY FOR PATTY
Kelly Paton, senior forward and UNH captain, was named a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 Candidate by USA Hockey on Tuesday. The Award is presented annually to the most outstanding women’s college hockey player. Paton was selected from the initial pool of 45 candidates that included teammates Micaela Long and Courtney Birchard.
Including Paton, UNH has had a total of 12 Top 10 candidates since the inception of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award in 1998, when UNH’s Brandy Fisher was the inaugural recipient.
PATON HONORED AS HOCKEY EAST PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Kelly Paton was honored as Hockey East Player of the Month for February, the league announced March 2. It marked Paton’s league-high third Player of the Month award this season; she was also feted in October and November.
Paton recorded five goals and nine assists for 14 points in seven February games to average 1.29 assists per game and 2.00 points per game. Those statistics included two power-play goals and a game-winning goal in the regular-season finale at Boston College. In that game, she matched her career highs in both assists (three) and points (four). Paton also had a +4 plus/minus rating and a .200 shooting percentage. She recorded a point in every February game with three multiple-point efforts.
LONG, LAVOIE RECEIVE HOCKEY EAST AWARDS
Micaela Long was named the Humboldt Storage and Moving Scoring Champion and Kristina Lavoie was selected to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, the league announced Wednesday.
Long won the scoring title by recording a league-high 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) in 21 Hockey East games. She edged out teammate Kelly Paton, who tallied 32 league points.
Lavoie was a unanimous selection to the All-Rookie Team. She tallied 14 goals and six assists for 20 points in 21 Hockey East games to lead league rookies in both goals and points. The freshman forward ranked first overall in the league in both goals and power-play goals (four), and was fifth in points.
THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
New Hampshire begins its quest to win a fifth consecutive Hockey East tournament title this weekend after receiving a bye in the quarterfinal round of the 8th Annual Hockey East Championship.
UNH went 4-1-0 in the last five games of the regular season and that included a 4-1 road win against Boston College in the regular-season finale (Feb. 21). The Wildcats scored four goals in four of those five games and went 7-for-16 (43.8%) on the power play.
UNH’s overall special teams (power play + penalty kill) is the best in the nation with a 61.2% success rate.
There are a few scenarios in which the Wildcats are undefeated: when scoring 3+ goals (17-0-3); when leading after two periods (15-0-3); and when leading after one period (10-0-3).
The second period marks UNH’s highest goal output (40) and the opposition’s lowest (19).
Kelly Paton carries a nine-game point-scoring streak into the weekend; she has six goals and 10 assists in that span.
Paton and Micaela Long recorded 12 points apiece in the last five games of the regular season. Paton has five goals and seven assists while Long has tallied two goals and 10 assists.
Also in the last five game, Lindsey Minton had a 4-1-0 record with a 1.21 GAA and .950 save percentage by stopping 114 of 120 shots.
With Courtney Birchard out of the lineup the past four games, freshman forward Kristine Horn has been listed on the line chart as a defenseman and has seen significant time on the blue line.
DEVELOPING THE PLAYOFF PICTURE
UNH finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Hockey East regular season standings and earned the #2 seed via the tiebreaker system to get a bye into the semifinals. Providence captured the regular-season title to end UNH’s six-year reign (the teams shared the 2005 crown) and be host of the 8th Annual Women’s Hockey East Championship.
In last week’s quarterfinal action, third-seeded Boston University recorded a 3-1 home victory against sixth-seeded Boston College and fifth-seeded UConn, which finished one point behind the three teams tied for second, upended fourth-seeded Northeastern, 4-1.
UNH IN POSTSEASON PLAY
New Hampshire has a 41-21 lifetime record in postseason play that includes a 10-3 overall mark in the Hockey East tourney; with four consecutive tournament titles, the Wildcats have won eight straight games in the league tourney.
UNH has a 6-1 record in Hockey East semifinal games and a 4-2 ledger in title games. In addition to winning the 2006-09 titles, the ‘Cats finished as runner-up in both 2003 and 2004. In the only year UNH did not advance to the title game, UConn ousted the ‘Cats in the 2005 semifinals at BU’s Walter Brown Arena, 5-4 in overtime.
PLAYING THE FIELD
UNH compiled a 4-4-1 record in the regular season against the other three Hockey East semifinalists. In addition to a 1-1-1 mark against Boston University, the Wildcats went 3-0-0 vs. UConn and 0-3-0 against Providence.
REVISITING THE CRYSTAL BALL
Only three of the teams finished the Hockey East regular-season standings in the position that was predicted by the coaches in the preseason poll. Of the other five, two finished lower than anticipated (UNH and Boston College) and three placed higher (Boston U., Providence and Northeastern).
Here is the side-by-side comparison between poll and standings.
Preseason Poll Final Standings Pts
1. UNH (3) 50 1. Providence 30
2 Boston College (3) 47 2. UNH 28
3. Boston University 46 Boston U. 28
4. Providence (2) 43 Northeastern 28
5. Connecticut 31 5. Connecticut 27
6. Northeastern 27 6. Boston College 22
7. Vermont 22 7. Vermont 11
8. Maine 14 8. Maine 10
Senior forward Kelly Paton is captain of the 2010 UNH Wildcats. She has received six league accolades this season with three Pure Hockey Player of the Week awards (Nov. 2; Nov. 23: Nov. 30) and three Player of the Month honors (October; November; February).
Paton reached double digits in both goals (10) and assists (16) in just the 14th game of the season. She currently has 19 goals and 32 assists to lead the team in goals and points (51); she also has a team-best plus/minus rating of +19 and is tied for the lead in game-winning goals (four). Furthermore, Paton ranks second in assists and shots (118), is tied for second in power-play goals (six) and is fourth in shooting percentage (.161).
In 21 Hockey East league games, she tallied 32 points on 12 goals and 20 assists.
Paton amassed 12 points with five goals and seven assists in the last five games of the regular season and she carries a nine-game point-scoring streak into postseason play with 6-10-16 in that span.
Paton opened the 2010 season with a 12-game point-scoring streak in which she tallied seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points. That streak also included a stretch of seven consecutive games with an assist at the start of the season.
Paton has a point in 27 of 31 games with 12 multiple-point efforts. She matched her career highs of three assists and four points Dec. 12 at Dartmouth to factor in all of the team’s goals in the 4-1 victory; that included a span of 5:37 in which she tallied three points. Paton also tallied a goal and three assists in UNH’s 4-1 win at Boston College in the regular-season finale.
Paton finished with three assists Oct. 18 vs. Niagara; in that game, she recorded assists 34 seconds apart late in the first period to transform a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead (en route to a 6-1 victory). Paton helped orchestrate UNH’s third-period comeback against Syracuse on Oct. 10. With the ‘Cats trailing 1-0, she set up a goal with 8:04 remaining in regulation, then scored with 7.2 seconds on the clock to lift UNH to a 2-1 victory.
Paton also willed the Wildcats to a 4-3 win vs. Rensselaer on Nov. 21. In that game, she recorded her second career hat trick (including the game-winning goal) and an assist to match her personal best of four points. In the next game at seventh-ranked Northeastern, Paton scored a shorthanded goal to give UNH a 1-0 lead and set up the shorthanded third-period goal that broke the 1-1 tie in a 2-1 victory.
In those consecutive games vs. RPI and NU, Paton factored in all six of the team’s goals with four goals and two assists. In fact, Paton has factored into all of UNH’s goals in seven games as well as 51 of 98 overall goals this season.
On Feb. 7 at nationally-ranked UConn, Paton recorded three points on one goal and two assists. She set up the game-winning goal – it gave UNH a 2-0 lead in the first period – and helped secure the 4-1 victory with a third-period assist early in the frame and by scoring an empty-net goal with 1:38 remaining. In the next game vs. Vermont, Paton tallied three points with two goals and an assist.
WILDCATS IN THE NATION
Senior forwards Kelly Paton and Micaela Long are ranked in the top six in a pair of statistics. In addition to being #6 in points per game (1.61), Long is #2 in assists (1.23 per game); Paton is #4 in assists (1.00) and #5 in points (1.65) as well as #17 in goals (0.61 gpg).
Freshman forward Kristina Lavoie is seventh in rookie scoring (0.94 ppg) and eighth in power-play goals (seven). Kristine Horn, another freshman forward/defenseman, is currently 19th in rookie scoring at 0.68 points per game.
Sophomore goaltender Lindsey Minton is 13th (1.85) in GAA and junior goalie Kayley Herman checks in at 14th in that statistic (1.87).
Junior defenseman Courtney Birchard is ranked among the top 10 in three statistics – defensemen scoring (6th, 0.81 points per game), game-winning goals (15th, four) and power-play goals (16th, six).
A LONG TIME COMING
Senior forward Micaela Long, the 2010 Humboldt Storage and Moving Scoring Champion of Hockey East, has been a consistent point producer in her four years as a Wildcat – she has recorded double digits in both goals and assists every season. This year, Long has taken that consistency to a new level – she has recorded a point in 27 of 31 games (with point-scoring streaks of six and a team-best 17 games) to factor in 50 of the team’s 98 goals.
Long tallied two goals and 10 assists for 12 points in last five games of the regular season, including a goal and three assists in the Feb. 21 regular-season finale at Boston College, and she finished with 3-13-16 in the last 10.
Long leads the team in assists (38) and ranks second in both points (50) and plus/minus (+18); she is also third in goals (12) and tied for second in power-play goals (six).
In 21 Hockey East league games, Long tallied 34 points on seven goals and 27 assists.
Long reached the personal milestone of 100 career points with her seventh goal of the season –42nd of her career – Dec. 5 vs. Providence.
Long tallied a goal and an assist Jan. 29 at Maine and then recorded an assist in the Jan. 30 game vs. the Black Bears to extend her point-scoring streak to 17 games; she tallied six goals and 21 assists in that span (1.59 ppg). She had an assist each of the last eight games of that streak.
Long had seven multiple-point efforts during the 17-game point-scoring streak as part of 12 multiple-point games (nine multiple-assist efforts) overall this season.
In consecutive games against UConn (Feb. 7) and Vermont (Feb. 13), Long recorded an assist on seven consecutive UNH goals – the last three at UConn and all four against UVM. The three-assist effort tied her personal best, but then she established a new career high with the four assists the following game against the Catamounts.
In UNH’s last game of the 2009 calendar year (Dec. 12 at Dartmouth College), she matched her career highs in both assists (three) and points (four). And then she opened the 2010 calendar year with a goal and an assist Jan. 8 vs. Northeastern at Fenway Park.
In the Nov. 6-7 weekend, Long tallied two assists in both games against eighth-ranked Boston University. She matched her career highs in both goals (two) and points (four) against Niagara on Oct. 18.
In the season opener, Long recorded a goal – the game-winning tally – and an assist Oct. 3 vs. UConn. Long had a five-point weekend vs. UConn (0-2-2) and Maine (1-2-3) on Oct. 31-Nov. 1.
Long enters the weekend with 125 career points on 47 goals and 78 assists. She ranks second among active ‘Cats in all three statistics and is the active leader in games played (141).
GAME DAY: #5 WOMEN'S HOCKEY BEGINS POSTSEASON MARCH 6
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