BOSTON – Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) made a career-high 40 saves and Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) scored 16 seconds into overtime to lead the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 4-3 Hockey East victory against ninth-ranked Northeastern University at Matthews Arena.
UNH, which recorded its second consecutive road win against a team ranked No. 9 in the national polls, improved to 11-12-0 overall and 4-9-0 in Hockey East to climb into a tie for sixth place in the league standings. NU, which had two road wins vs. the Wildcats this season, is now 13-7-4, 5-5-3.
Herman made double-digit saves each of the first three periods with 12 in both the first and second as well as 16 in the third. She did not face a shot in the extra session. NU counterpart Florence Schelling stopped 25 shots, including one in overtime.
Arielle O'Neill (St. Catharines, Ontario) matched her personal best of three points with a goal and career-high two assists, including one on the game-winning goal, to lead the Wildcats' offense.
Birchard, who skated as a defenseman during regulation, was inserted at right wing for the opening faceoff of overtime and the change paid dividends as she collected a rebound at the right doorstep and lifted a shot into the open near side of the cage to end the game. Katie Brock (Marblehead, Mass.) and O'Neill set up the game-winning tally as UNH controlled the faceoff and immediately attacked the net.
NU threatened the opening minutes of the game when Herman denied Julia Marty and, off the rebound, Kristi Kehoe's shot from the inner-right circle caromed off the right post.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead at 5:39 when O'Neill gained possession in the right corner and threw the puck to the front of the net, where Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) was position to redirect a shot into the net.
Herman preserved that one-goal advantage in the 12th minute when she stopped Lori Antflick's initial shot at the top of the crease as well as her attempt to stuff in the rebound.
New Hampshire extended the lead to 2-0 at 14:52. Emma Clark (East Barre, Vt.) corralled the puck in the neutral zone and advanced to the top of the left circle before firing a pass down low to Sarah Campbell (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), who lifted a shot past Schelling under the crossbar.
The Huskies pulled within 2-1 at 16:50 on a flurry in front of the net in which Herman denied Antflick and Siena Falino but Kristi Kehoe pushed the puck into the cage.
In the seventh minute of the second period, Raylen Dziengelewski (Southwick, Maine) stole the puck in the offensive zone at the left point and maneuvered around three defenders to cut alone down the slot. She attempted to deke Schelling, but the goalie mirrored Dziengelewski's moves to keep the score 2-1.
The Huskies were whistled for a minor penalty on the play, however, and UNH gained a two-skater power play for 84 seconds when another NU skater went to the penalty box at 6:59. New Hampshire sustained offensive pressure and recorded five shots on goal, the best of which was Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.) at the right doorstep off a rebound.
Schelling, however, once again kept the 'Cats at bay and Northeastern tied the score, 2-2, at 11:12. Alyssa Wohlfeiler kept the puck in the offensive zone at the left point and moved the puck to Claire Santostefano. She quickly passed the puck low to Rachel Llanes, who scored on a high shot.
With just over two minutes remaining in the second period, Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.) made a slap-pass from the right point to Hannah Armstrong (Aurora, Ontario), whose one-timer from the right post was snared by Schelling's glove. Moments later, Sarah Cuthbert (East Falmouth, Mass.) was denied at the top of the crease and then chipped the rebound wide left of the cage.
NU closed with a flurry in the final minute, but Herman preserved the tie.
UNH regained the lead, 3-2, on O'Neill's unassisted goal – her team-leading ninth tally of the season – at 3:02 of the third period. She stole the puck in the neutral zone along the right dashers to create a breakaway down the wing. She charged through the circle towards the cage and wristed a close-range shot high into the net.
Northeastern tied the score, 3-3, at 7:35 when Antflick scored off a rebound in the slot. Falino, with the initial shot, and Kehoe were credited with assists.
New Hampshire returns to action January 29-30 for a two-game home series against the University of Maine. Both games at the Whittemore Center begin at 2 p.m., and the series finale marks the league's Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer fundraising initiative.