GAME NOTES: WOMEN'S HOCKEY PLAYS HOME OPENER FRIDAY VS. CLARKSON; BATTLES ST. LAWRENCE SATURDAY

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The Matchups

    After opening the season with five consecutive road games, the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team plays its home opener Oct. 22 (7 p.m.) against Clarkson University at the Whittemore Center. The Wildcats then play host to St. Lawrence University on Oct. 23 (5 p.m.).
    UNH has a 5-1-0 lifetime record, including last year's 6-2 road loss, against Clarkson. The Wildcats prevailed 2-1 the last time these teams faced off at the Whittemore Center (October 2008). Prior to that, these programs had not met since the 1982 season.
    In last year's game, the Golden Knights netted an early goal and goals 2:26 apart late in the first period to take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission. The 'Cats closed within 3-2 midway through the second stanza, but Clarkson struck again before the second intermission and potted a pair of goals in the third to pull away. The Golden Knights scored three goals on special teams (two PPG, one SHG); both of UNH's goals were on the power play.
    New Hampshire has a 27-10-4 lifetime record, including last year's 3-3 tie on the road, against St. Lawrence. UNH has a 14-4-1 home record vs. the Saints that includes a 3-2 win in the most recent meeting (October 2008) at the Whittemore Center. In the eight-year tenure of head coach Brian McCloskey, the 'Cats have a 5-5-4 mark against SLU (4-2-1 at home).
    In last year's game, the Wildcats led 2-1 at the first intermission and 3-1 heading into the third period, but the Saints utilized a two-skater advantage (power play and empty net) to pull even with 1:12 remaining in regulation. UNH recorded a 36-33 shot advantage, including 5-2 in OT. The 'Cats went 2-for-3 on the power play while SLU was 1-for-7.

The state of New Hampshire
    New Hampshire plays on home ice for the first time this season when the Wildcats play Clarkson University at the Whittemore Center on Friday night.
    UNH enters this weekend's action on a two-game winning streak following road victories against Rensselaer (4-3) and Union (4-1) last weekend.
    In its most recent game at Union on Oct. 16, UNH's penalty kill unit was a perfect 9-for-9 in shorthanded situations. The Wildcats are perfect (30-for-30) through five games.
    The team that has scored first has won all five games.
    Three of UNH's five games have been decided by one goal, and the Wildcats won two of those three.

For openers
    New Hampshire has a 26-5-2 record in home openers and that includes 6-0-2 under the direction of head coach Brian McCloskey. Last year, the Wildcats were 3-1 victors against UConn. UNH has never faced off against Clarkson in a home opener.
    This is the latest season opener for the 'Cats since the 2003-04 season, when they faced off against UConn on Oct. 26 (that was the second game of the season, however).

There's no place like home
    Since the Whittemore Center opened in the 1995-96 season, the UNH women's ice hockey team has a 193-37-24 home record, which calculates to an .807 winning percentage.
    Last year, the Wildcats had a 10-4-3 record at home that included 5-0-1 vs. non-conference opponents.

'Cat nips
    Seniors Julie Allen and Courtney Birchard both recorded a goal and an assist last Friday at Rensselaer.
    Freshman forward Nicole Gifford recorded her first career goal with a first-period assist at Rensselaer (Oct. 15) that gave UNH a 1-0 lead en route to a 4-3 victory.
    Rookie defenseman Maggie Hunt tallied an assist on the game-winning goal Oct. 15 vs. the Engineers. That goal broke a 3-3 tie in the third period.
    Sophomore forward Kristine Horn has recorded an assist in four of five games this season.
    Freshman forward Hannah Armstrong assisted on both game-winning goals last weekend vs. Rensselaer and Union.
    Junior goaltender Lindsey Minton has yielded just one goal in both starts this season (at Colgate; at Union).
    Both of Kristina Lavoie's goals this season have been game-winners; last year, only one of her 18 goals was a game-winning tally.

UNH vs. the ECAC
    New Hampshire had a 4-1-2 record against ECAC teams last season, when the Wildcats faced off against Quinnipiac (4-0), Clarkson (2-6), St. Lawrence (3-3), Harvard (1-1), Rensselaer (4-3) and Dartmouth (4-1) in addition to Colgate (4-0).
    In the opening weeks of the 2010-11 season, UNH is 2-1-0 vs. the ECAC with a 1-0 overtime loss at Colgate (Oct. 9) as well as wins against Rensselaer (4-3, Oct. 15) and Union (4-1, Oct. 16).

Wildcats in the nation
    Here is how UNH stacks up against Clarkson and St. Lawrence in the national statistics (28 teams; through Oct. 20):
    UNH    CU    SLU
Offense (gpg)    15 (2.40)    25 (0.83)    18 (1.75)
Defense (gpg)    9 (2.00)    17 (3.17)    16 (3.00)
PP (%)    23 (.087)    26 (.030)    11 (.150)
PK (%)    1 (1.000)    26 (.758)    11 (.875)

Blue Line backbone
    One of the Wildcats' strengths in the 2011 season will be the defensive unit, which is led by senior captains Courtney Birchard and Raylen Dziengelewski, assistant captain (and senior) Courtney Sheary and sophomores Katie Brock and Kailey Chappell. Bryanna Farris, another second-year player, saw ice time as both a defenseman and forward last season.
    Birchard, a converted forward who missed the last six games of the 2010 season due to injury, brings an offensive dynamic to the unit. She garnered All-America Second Team and Hockey East First Team All-Star status last year as a junior.
    Sheary and Dziengelewski are defensive-minded blue liners,  although Dziengelewski did finish tied for third on last year's team in assists with 13.
    Brock and Chappell logged lots of ice time last season in various situations (even strength, power play and penalty kill) to return with a wealth of experience after just one season donning the Blue and White.

The puck stops here
    New Hampshire has two proven players between the pipes and can rely on both any given day.
    Senior goalie Kayley Herman went 8-4-3 in 16 games (14 starts) last season. She also had a 1.88 GAA and .913 save percentage with three shutouts. In 78 career games, Herman is 53-14-9 (.757 win percentage) with a 1.69 GAA, .917 save percentage and 14 shutouts.
    As a freshman in 2008, Herman broke the school single-season records for wins (29) and GAA (1.07); her .938 save percentage ranks third.
    On UNH's career leaderboard, Herman ranks third in GAA and fifth in both save percentage and shutouts. She is also fourth in both minutes (4627:11) and wins.
    Junior netminder Lindsey Minton had an 11-5-2 record in 19 games (all starts) a year ago. Her other statistics included a 1.91 GAA, .908 save percentage and two shutouts.
    Minton currently has a 22-6-2 lifetime record (.767 winning percentage) with a 1.78 GAA, .914 save percentage and three shutouts in 33 total games (31 starts).
    In two games this season (both starts), Minton is 1-1-0 with a 0.99 GAA and .953 save percentage. Her loss was a 1-0 overtime decision at Colgate in which she made 22 saves.
    Herman has three starts this year. She is 2-1-0 with a 2.67 GAA and .890 save percentage.
    The trend through three weekends is that Herman starts the first game of the weekend and Minton starts the next day.

Super sophs
    Sophomore forwards Kristina Lavoie and Kristine Horn are two of the team's top three returning scorers from the 2010 season. Among returning Wildcats, Lavoie is the leader in goals (18) and points (29); overall, she ranked second on the team in goals and third in points. Horn led last year's rookie class in assists with 13, which tied for third best overall and tops among returning 'Cats.
    The duo also combined to scored 12 power-play goals. Lavoie led the way with seven while Horn ranked fifth overall with five.
    Brittany Skudder is one of the other top returning scorers; she tallied 13 points on five goals and eight assists.
    Through five games this season, Horn leads the team in assists (four), is tied for second in points (four) and is tied for the lead in plus/minus (+4). Horn has recorded an assist in four of five games.
    Lavoie is tied for second in goals (two) and tied for fourth in points (three). Both of her goals have been game-winning tallies (Oct. 2 at UConn; Oct. 15 at Rensselaer).
    Sophomores Katie Brock and Kailey Chappell saw significant playing time on the blue line last season and have continued to do so early in the 2010-11 season.


North of the border
    Ten of 22 student-athletes on the 2011 UNH women's ice hockey roster hail from Canada. Julie Allen, Hannah Armstrong, Courtney Birchard, Kailey Chappell, Bryanna Farris, Nicole Gifford, Paige Goloubef, Kristina Lavoie and Arielle O'Neill are from Ontario, and Kayley Herman calls Saskatchewan home.
    Those players account for 11 of 12 goals (92%) and 9 of 19 assists (47%) for 20 of 31 points (65%).

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