September 29, 2011

Game Day: Women's Ice Hockey Travels to Niagara to Open 2011-12 Season

Game Notes

The Matchup

    The University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team opens the 2011-12 season with a two-game series at Niagara University on Sept. 30 & Oct. 1.
UNH has a 23-3-1 lifetime record, including last year's 1-0 overtime and 2-0 victories at the Whittemore Center, against Niagara. The Wildcats have won three straight in the series and are unbeaten in 18 straight (17-0-1) vs. the Purple Eagles. All three of NU's wins occurred during the 2001-02 season.
    In the most recent meeting (Oct. 30, 2011), UNH goaltender Lindsey Minton stopped all 24 shots on goal to shut out Niagara in a 2-0 victory. Kailey Chappell broke the scoreless tie midway through the second period, then Kristina Lavoie scored seven minutes into the final frame to extend the advantage to two goals. The visitors recorded a 24-16 shot advantage and went 0-for-4 on the power play; UNH did not have a power-play opportunity.
    One day earlier, the Wildcats scored with 52 seconds remaining in overtime to prevail 1-0. Lindsey Minton was once again in net for the 'Cats and she turned aside all 25 shots. UNH tallied a 28-25 shot advantage, including 3-2 in overtime.

The State of New Hampshire
    New Hampshire had faced off against a Hockey East foe each of the previous three season openers. The last time UNH opened against a non-conference team was in 2007-08, when the Wildcats were 4-2 victors at St. Lawrence University.
    September 30 marks the second earliest season opener in program history. The only other time the Wildcats played a regular-season game in September was in 2006, when they defeated Niagara, 5-0, on the 29th.
    UNH returns 14 letterwinners, including seniors Emma Clark and Lindsey Minton as well as captains Katie Brock, Kailey Chappell and Nicole Gifford. There are nine newcomers to this year's squad.
    The Wildcats also lost nine letterwinners from a year ago and that included 2010 All-America selection Courtney Birchard.
    The top two point producers and top three scoring forwards return. Junior forward Kristina Lavoie led the team in both assists (11) and points (20) while ranking second in goals (nine). Arielle O'Neill was the team's top goal scorer as a freshman with 11; she ranked second in points (19) and tied for third in assists (eight). Kristine Horn, another junior, tallied five goals and 10 assists for 15 points; those numbers were second in assists and tied for third in points.
    The defensive corps lost three players to graduation but consists of captains Katie Brock and Kailey Chappell, both of whom are juniors, as well as sophomore Maggie Hunt.

'Cat Nips
    Kristina Lavoie enters the season as UNH's active career leader in both goals (27) and points (49) while Kristine Horn leads all current players in assists (23).
    Horn and Lavoie are also New Hampshire's active leaders in games played. Both have skated in 65 games. Kailey Chappell is next at 64. Senior forward Emma Clark has appeared in 92 games overall, 60 as a Wildcat (32 as a freshman at Vermont in 2008-09).

Opening Act
    UNH has a 39-3-2 overall record in season openers with an 8-0-1 mark under head coach Brian McCloskey, and that includes a 5-0 home victory vs. Niagara (this year's opponent) in September 2006 as well as a 4-0-0 mark on the road. Overall, the Wildcats are 12-1-1 on the road in season openers. The only loss was at Northeastern University in the 1985-86 season, while the tie occurred at Minnesota in 1998-99.

What Just Happened?
    UNH utilized a balanced attack in which six players scored a goal and 13 recorded a point to defeat Ontario Hockey Academy, 6-1, in a Sept. 24 exhibition game at the Whittemore Center.
    After falling behind 1-0, the Wildcats scored 89 seconds later and potted two goals each period. The 'Cats recorded a 57-5 shot advantage (21-3, 22-2, 14-0).
    UNH's goal scorers were Hannah Armstrong and Katie Kleinendorst in the first period, Maggie Hunt and Emma Clark in the second stanza, followed by Heather Kashman and Nicole Gifford in the final frame.
    Armstrong and Hunt both finished with a goal and an assist; Jenna Lascelle was the other 'Cat to tally multiple points with two assists.

What's Up Next?
    Following the two-game series at Niagara University, the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team opens a three-game homestand Oct. 7 (7 p.m.) against Colgate University. The homestand continues Oct. 8 vs. Syracuse University (5 p.m.) and concludes with the Hockey East league opener against Boston College on Oct. 14 (7 p.m.)

Starting Strong
    In the nine-year tenure of head coach Brian McCloskey, UNH has exhibited a propensity for starting seasons with an extended unbeaten streak.
    Last year was one of the few exceptions, as the Wildcats won the opener but then lost the second and third games. They did reel off seven consecutive wins, however, to improve to 8-2-0 through 10 games.
    New Hampshire had opened each of the previous two seasons with six-game unbeaten streaks; the 'Cats had a 5-0-1 mark in 2010 preceded by 4-0-2 in 2009. In the 2007 season, UNH opened with nine consecutive wins. In '05 and '03 the Wildcats began with seven straight victories.

UNH Records 700th Win
    UNH, now in its 35th year at the varsity level, is the winningest women's college hockey program in the United States with an overall record of 701-191-66 for a .768 winning percentage. The Wildcats attained the most recent century milestone Feb. 3, 2011 with a 4-2 road victory against third-ranked Boston University.
    In 34 years, the Wildcats have won one national championship (1998; AWCHA), four Hockey East tournament championships, six Hockey East regular-season titles, five ECAC tournament championships and four EAIAW championships. UNH has made five consecutive NCAA tourney appearances (2006-10) with two trips to the Frozen Four in that span.
    The Wildcats became the first to reach the milestone of 600 victories in January 2007. Here is a time line for each century mark:
Mark    Date    Opponent    Result    Game #    Record
1st win    12/03/77    Colby    8-4    1    1-0-0
100    02/02/83    at Dartmouth    7-1    103    100-1-2
200    01/15/89    St. Lawrence    5-2    227    200-20-7
300    11/27/94    vs. Providence    5-2    371    300-55-16
400    11/21/98    at Yale    9-2    506    400-80-26
500    02/02/03    Providence    4-1    668    500-131-37
600    01/13/07    Maine    3-1    806    600-155-51
700    02/03/11    at Boston U.    4-2    953    700-189-64

200 Wins at The Whitt
    New Hampshire recorded its 200th victory at the Whittemore Center with a 4-2 victory Jan. 30, 2011 against Maine. Since the Whitt opened in the 1995-96 season, the UNH women's ice hockey team has a 200-44-24 home record, which calculates to a .791 winning percentage.

The Puck Stops Here
    UNH has four goaltenders on its 2011-12 roster, but only senior Lindsey Minton has collegiate experience. Freshman Jenn Gilligan is expect to challenge for playing time, while newcomer Moe Bradley and redshirt freshman Leslie Ann McGowan complete the depth chart.
    In 18 games last season (all starts), Minton went 8-10-0 with a 1.84 GAA and .926 save percentage to rank 14th in the nation in GAA and 18th in save percentage. Minton allowed zero or one goal in nine of 18 games, including consecutive shutouts of Niagara University (twice) and Vermont. Minton's personal-best shutout streak ended at 219:43 when Boston U. scored a second-period goal Nov. 7.
    Minton set career highs for saves both in a period (20) and game (37) against sixth-ranked Boston College at the Whittemore Center on Nov. 28. Minton held the Eagles scoreless for 57 minutes, but then the Eagles scored goals within a minute – and added an empty-netter with five seconds remaining – to spoil Minton's career effort (BC won, 3-1).
    Minton recorded single-season highs/bests in minutes (1073:20), saves (412), save percentage (.926) and shutouts (four).
    Minton currently has a 29-15-2 lifetime record with a 1.84 GAA, .918 save percentage and seven shutouts in 49 total games (47 starts).

O, Canada
    Ten of 23 student-athletes on the 2011 UNH women's ice hockey roster hail from Canada. Hannah Armstrong, Kailey Chappell, Bryanna Farris, Nicole Gifford, Paige Goloubef, Jenna Lascelle, Kristina Lavoie and Arielle O'Neill are from Ontario, Jenn Gilligan hails from British Columbia and Heather Kashman is matriculating from Alberta.

On the Airwaves
    A total of eight UNH women's ice hockey games will be broadcast live on The Wildcat Sports Radio Network, which consists of WGIR-AM 610 (Manchester), WQSO-FM 96.7 (Portsmouth), WGIN-AM 930 (Rochester), WNTK-FM 99.7 (New London) and WASR-AM 1420 (Wolfeboro), WSMN-AM 1590 (Nashua).
    It begins with the home opener Oct. 7 vs. Colgate and concludes with the final regular-season home game Feb. 12 against Providence.
    Here is the schedule of games:
  Oct. 7 vs. Colgate, 7 pm
  Nov. 3 vs.Vermont, 7 pm
  Nov. 25 vs. Maine, 7 pm
  Nov. 29 vs. Union, 7 pm
  Dec. 11 vs. Dartmouth, 2 pm
  Jan. 13 vs. UConn, 7pm
  Feb. 4 vs. Boston U., 2pm
  Feb. 12 vs. Providence, 2pm

Hockey East Preseason Poll
    New Hampshire, which finished first or second in the Hockey East regular-season standings each of the initial eight years of the league's existence before finishing tied for sixth in 2010-11, was picked seventh in the 2011-12 WHEA Preseason Coaches Poll that was released Sept. 20.
    Here is a complete look at the poll:
Preseason Poll (1st-place votes)
1.    Boston University (6)    55
2    Boston College (2)    51
3.    Northeastern    42
4.    Providence    39
5.    Connecticut    30
6.    Vermont    24
7.    UNH    21
8.    Maine    18

The McCloskey File
    Brian McCloskey (Dartmouth '77), who recorded his 200th career victory Dec. 8, 2009 at Boston College (4-0 win), is in his ninth year at the helm of the Wildcats. He is a four-time Hockey East Coach of the Year recipient (2003, 2005, 2006, 2009) and was runner-up in both the 2003 and 2006 national Coach of the Year balloting. He has directed UNH to the NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Championship five consecutive years (2006-10) with four consecutive Hockey East tournament titles (2006-09) and six straight league regular-season crowns (2004-09). The 'Cats advanced to the Frozen Four in '06 and '08.
    A Wildcat was honored as Player of the Year each of the first four years of Hockey East's existence. In addition, the ITECH Goaltending Champion award was presented to a UNH goalie each of the first six years and the Scoring Champion has five times been a Wildcat.
    McCloskey has compiled a 222-65-30 overall record, including a 136-28-16 mark in Hockey East, with 20+ wins each of the initial seven seasons.
    In his first year (2003) as head coach of the program, he led the 'Cats to a 27-7-2 record, which is now the fifth-best single-season win mark behind those established in 2006 & 2008 (33), 1998 (31) and 2007 (28).
    Under his tutelage, five players have received a total of six All-America honors and five have been honored as a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 Finalist.
    Here's a look at some notable wins:
   1st win– Oct. 11, 2002 (4-0 vs. Vermont)
   1st Hockey East win– Nov. 2, 2002 (5-1 vs. Maine)
   50th win– March 20, 2004 (5-0 vs. Northeastern)
   100th win– Feb. 25, 2006 (5-0 vs. Vermont)
   150th win– Jan. 5, 2008 (3-1 at Brown)
   200th win– Dec. 8, 2009 (4-0 at Boston College)
    Coach McCloskey's predecessors at UNH also exceeded 200 victories. Russ McCurdy compiled a 264-36-10 record from 1978-92 and Karen Kay went 215-90-25 from 1993-2002.

This is Hockey East
    The Women's Hockey East Association will celebrate its 10th anniversary season of play after officially commencing league action in the fall of 2002. In nine years, the conference has emerged as one of the top women's ice hockey conferences in the nation, having sent five teams to the Frozen Four and 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament, which includes the most successful season in 2010-2011, sending Boston University and Boston College to the Frozen Four with the Terriers making the league's second appearance in the NCAA National Championship Game.
    In February 2007, the league debuted its inaugural "Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer". The one-day event was hosted by Hockey East schools as a way to establish a greater fan base, to raise needed funds, and to work with the specific charities to raise awareness for both the league and the specific cause.  In the initial year, close to $20,000 was donated back to local breast cancer charities (Friends of Mel's Foundation and the American Cancer Society), vastly exceeding expectations.  Last year, over $31,000 dollars was raised to bring the four-year total to over $145,000. "Skating Strides" has won two national awards at NACMA in the "Single Day Attendance Promotion" category in 2007 and 2009.  The fifth annual "Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer" will have an event on every WHEA campus this season, as well as participation by all of the Hockey East men's teams over the course of a two weekends.
    In September of 2001, the Hockey East athletic directors voted to found the new women's league under the existing Hockey East banner, with play scheduled to begin no later than the 2004-05 season. The five schools with varsity programs entered as charter members with the stipulation that any other Hockey East school that added a varsity women's program in the future would be freely admitted to the league.
    Expediting the process in the interests of the participating teams, the league and the sport itself, Commissioner Joe Bertagna worked with a selected task force to successfully prepare the Hockey East women's league for launch in the 2002-03 season, two years ahead of schedule. An important part of that process was the acceptance of an invitation extended to the University of Connecticut to join the newly formed league as its sixth active member.
    In 2005, the Women's Hockey East Association welcomed the addition of two more teams to its growing family, Boston University and the University of Vermont. For BU, it marked the inaugural season for women's hockey as a varsity sport.
Although the Women's Hockey East Association is still in its infancy, its member programs have storied histories that include several championships and individual awards at the highest levels of play. The first 14 ECAC championships were shared among New Hampshire, Northeastern and Providence, all charter members of Hockey East. Northeastern forward Brooke Whitney was named the recipient of the 2002 Patty Kazmaier Award as the nation's top female collegiate player, an honor first won by New Hampshire's Brandy Fisher in 1998. Had the award been in existence beforehand, it surely would have been won at some point by Cammi Granato, a three-time ECAC Player of the Year who led Providence to back-to-back championships in 1992 and 1993. Five years later, in 1998, alongside nine other alums of what are now Hockey East programs, Granato captained Team USA to the Olympic gold medal during the first Olympic tournament that featured women's ice hockey as a medal sport. Granato will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in October for her contributions to the sport.  Beginning in 2009, the WHEA athletic directors voted to honor the league Player of the Year with the Cammi Granato Award.
    Perhaps the proudest legacy that the Women's Hockey East Association has established is the Hockey Humanitarian Award. The most prestigious off-ice honor, and arguably the highest overall honor in the sport, the Hockey Humanitarian Award recognizes college hockey's finest citizen each year and encompasses both male and female athletes in all divisions. Its winners have demonstrated outstanding contributions to society through leadership in charity work and volunteerism. Northeastern senior forward Missy Elumba was the 2009 recipient, as the fifth Hockey East student-athlete to receive the prestigious honor. Elumba was the 14th all-time recipient and joined former Husky goaltender Chanda Gunn, who received the award in 2004, as the second athlete in Northeastern women's hockey history. BC's Sarah Carlson received it in 2005, making Women's Hockey East the first league to boast back-to-back winners.

Scouting the Purple Eagles
    Niagara University, picked second in the College Hockey America (CHA) Preseason Poll, is led by interim head coach Josh Sciba; former head coach Chris MacKenzie resigned in late August.
    The Purple Eagles return 17 letterwinners from last year's team that went 11-17-5 overall and 8-6-2 in the CHA. Jessica Hitchcock, younger sister of former UNH standout Jen Hitchcock, led the team in assists (10) and points (16) and Jenna Hendrikx netted a team-high 11 goals; Hendrikx tied with Kristen Richards for second in points (14).
    In goal, NU must replace the graduated Jenni Bauer, who started 28 of 33 games last season. Sarah Moses, a sophomore, played in seven games (five starts) and went 0-3-2 with a 2.26 GAA and .923 save percentage.

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