DURHAM, N.H. – Senior captain Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) recorded a goal and two assists to lead the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to a 5-3 victory over St. Lawrence University on Saturday evening at the Whittemore Center.
The Wildcats' fourth-straight win improves their record to 5-2-0, while the Saints fall to 1-4-1.
St. Lawrence got on the board first when Bailey Habscheid fired a shot from the point that beat UNH goaltender Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas) blocker side to put the visitors up 1-0 at 2:44 in the first frame. Kayla Sullivan and Rylee Smith were credited with assists on the play.
The 'Cats would bite back about six minutes later when Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.) passed the puck from the right side over to Brittany Skudder (Plainview, N.Y.) who took a shot but was turned away, however, Arielle O'Neill (St. Catharines, Ontario) was quick to the punch rebounding the puck and beating St. Lawrence goalie Caitlyn Lahonen five-hole at 8:28.
Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.) helped UNH turn up the heat, scoring the team's second goal nearly two minutes later. Birchard set up the play, delivering a pass to Horn at the left circle, where she fired a shot that found its way into the top left hand corner of the net at 10:37 of the first period. Molly Morrison (South Burlington, Vt.) also assisted on the goal.
New Hampshire would end the first frame with the lead and would add to it nearly halfway through the second stanza when Paige Goloubef (Oakville, Ontario) advanced a puck deep into Saint territory on a two-on-one opportunity, driving it close to the goal line then dishing it across to Birchard, who punched it into the right side of the net to help the 'Cats jump ahead 3-1 at 7:06 in the second stanza. Katie Brock (Marblehead, Mass.) also tallied an assist on the play.
UNH entered the third frame with a 3-1 lead and continued to put on the pressure early in the period when Horn slid a pass back to the point to Birchard who sent the puck over to Hannah Armstrong (Aurora, Ontario) at the left circle for a one-timer over the glove of Lahonen and into the back of the net at 3:26 for a power-play goal and 4-1 advantage.
However, St. Lawrence wasn't going down without a fight, firing back about two minutes later when Josee Belanger sent a pass to Smith near the blue line, advancing the puck for a breakaway and slid it past Minton at 5:53 of the third, cutting the score to 4-2 in favor of UNH.
Five minutes later, the Saints took advantage of a power play opportunity of their own when Kelly Sabatine scored a goal for the visitors. Alley Bero and Brooke Fernandez set up the play, as Sabatine was able to sneak a puck into the net on the left side at 10:38.
Despite St. Lawrence's late push, the Wildcats responded with a goal of their own, as Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) advanced the puck from her own zone all the way down to enemy territory, taking it across the ice from the left side and was able to get a shot off while making 360-degree spin on contact in front of the net, punching it into the right side at 17:19, preserving the win for the 'Cats. Sarah Cuthbert (East Falmouth, Mass.) and Raylen Dziengelewski (Southwick, Mass.) were credited with assists.
St. Lawrence held a 27-22 advantage in shots in the contest; however, the Wildcats owned an 8-5 edge in the second frame. Lavoie led UNH with four shots, while Dziengelewski and Birchard notched three shots apiece.
Minton stopped a game-high 24 shots, including 10 in the third period. Lahonen, meanwhile, made 17 saves, including seven in the middle stanza.
The Wildcats return to action Friday, October 29, when they take on Niagara at the Whittemore Center at 7 p.m.