The University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team takes a 3-2-1 overall record into a weekend road trip to northern New York against St. Lawrence University (Oct. 21; 4 p.m.) and Clarkson University (Oct. 22; 2 p.m.).
UNH has a 28-10-4 lifetime record, including last year's 5-3 win at the Whittemore Center, against St. Lawrence. The Wildcats have a 3-1-1 edge in the last five meetings overall, but they are 1-2-2 in their last five trips to Appleton Arena. In the most recent visit, the 'Cats and Saints skated to a 3-3 tie in October 2009.
UNH has a 6-1-0 lifetime record, including last year's 2-1 victory at the Whittemore Center, against Clarkson. These teams met four times spanning the 1979-82 seasons, then did not face off again until the '08 season when UNH prevailed 2-1 at the Whittemore Center. In the most recent meeting at Cheel Arena (October 2009), the Golden Knights were 6-2 victors.
Gilligan Garners Defensive Honor From WHEA
Freshman goaltender Jenn Gilligan was named WHEA Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 17. Gilligan backboned UNH to a 1-1 tie against fifth-ranked Boston College by stopping 24 of 25 shots on goal, including all three in the five-minute overtime session, for a .960 save percentage. Gilligan held the Eagles scoreless the last 48:37 of the game.
The State of New Hampshire
New Hampshire has a 3-2-1 overall record that includes a 2-1-0 mark on the road. UNH's season-opening three-game winning streak has been followed by a three-game winless streak (0-2-1). Including this weekend, seven of the team's next eight games are on the road.
The Wildcats opened Hockey East play last weekend with one point (0-1-1) against fifth-ranked Boston College. UNH skated to a 1-1 tie at home on Oct. 14, then was defeated by the homestanding Eagles the next day.
UNH's penalty kill was successful in 16 consecutive shorthanded situations (spanning four games) until BC scored a second-period power-play goal Oct. 15. The Wildcats were perfect three consecutive games vs. Colgate, Syracuse and BC before surrendering that PPG. UNH allowed three power-play goals in that Oct. 15 game; an opponent had not scored three PPG in a game vs. the Wildcats since Jan. 13, 2006 (Maine, 5-5 tie).
UNH scored 12 goals in the first three games. The 'Cats have scored two goals in the last three games.
New Hampshire has outscored the opposition 3-1 in the first period and 10-5 in the second period, but the Wildcats have been outscored 8-1 in the final frame.
The Wildcats have been whistled for more penalties than the opposition all six games (31-20 overall).
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 includes 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.
Freshman goaltender Jenn Gilligan made a season-high 24 saves in UNH's 1-1 tie against Boston College on Oct. 14 (at the Whittemore Center). She stopped three shots in OT – all during an Eagles' power play.
Senior goalie Lindsey Minton recorded the fifth 30+ save effort of her career with 30 saves in a 5-0 loss at fifth-ranked BC on Oct. 15. She stopped 16 shots in the third period (BC's netminder Corinne Boyles finished with 16 saves overall).
Last weekend, junior forward Kristine Horn extended her goal-scoring streak to five games with a tally Oct. 14 against fifth-ranked Boston College. She, and all the other Wildcats, were held off the scoresheet the following day at BC.
In the faceoff circle, Arielle O'Neill has the highest win percentage (.602; 50/88). Nicole Gifford has taken the most draws (138) and has the most wins (73). Heather Kashman is second in both wins (57) and percentage (.588; 57/97).
Defensemen Katie Brock and Brynja Bogan lead the team in plus/minus at +5 and +3, respectively.
Three freshman recorded a point in their Sept. 30 collegiate debut at Niagara and Jenn Gilligan made 21 saves for her first career victory. Caroline Broderick and Heather Kashman scored a goal; Jenna Lascelle tallied an assist.
Wildcats in the Nation
Here is how UNH stacks up against St. Lawrence and Clarkson in the national statistics (27 teams; through Oct. 19):
UNH SLU Clarkson
Offense (gpg) 20 (2.33) 5 (4.75) 14 (3.17)
Defense (gpg) 10 (2.33) 11 (2.50) 16 (2.67)
PP (%) 12 (.176) 23 (.100) 4 (.273)
PK (%) 12 (.857) 18 (.808) 12 (.857)
New Hampshire skated to a 3-0 lead each of the first three games of the season and did not face a deficit until the fourth game of the season, when Syracuse took a 1-0 lead midway through the second stanza.
What Just Happened?
Last weekend, UNH skated to a 1-1 tie at the Whittemore Center and then lost 5-0 at Conte Forum against fifth-ranked Boston College. The Wildcats fell behind 1-0 late in the first period but pulled even on Kristine Horn's goal midway through the second stanza. Jenn Gilligan stopped all seven shots in the third period and three more in overtime to backbone the 'Cats to the tie. UNH had the slight edge (26-25) in shots. The next day, the teams skated to a scoreless first period with the shots even at 5. BC generated an 11-6 shot advantage and took a 2-0 lead into the third period, then the Eagles outshot the Wildcats 19-5 in the final frame to record an overall 35-16 shot advantage and a 5-0 victory.
What's Up Next?
New Hampshire is idle until November 3, when the Wildcats return to Hockey East league action against the University of Vermont. Game time a the Whittemore Center is 7 p.m. Following that game, UNH plays five consecutive road games.
In the 10-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.
This year's squad opened with three consecutive wins to mark the fifth time in coach McCloskey's 10-year tenure UNH started a season at 3-0-0.
Captaining the 'Cats
Junior defenseman Kailey Chappell is captain of the 2011-12 UNH Wildcats, while junior defenseman Katie Brock and sophomore forward Nicole Gifford will serve as alternate captains. All three were named to the 2011 Hockey East All-Academic Team.
Brock skated in all 32 games last season and matched her rookie total of 0-4-4 with an assist on three game-winning goals. She tied for fifth on the team – and was second among defensemen – in plus/minus at +2; it marked the second consecutive year Brock ranked fifth overall and second among blue liners in that statistic.
Through six games this season, Brock is atop the UNH leaderboard in plus/minus at +5.
Chappell skated in 64 of 65 games in her first two years at UNH. She recorded four points each of those years. Last season, Chappell tallied a goal and three assists with one game-winning goal and an assist on two other game-winning goals.
Gifford recorded five goals and two assists for a total of seven points in 31 games of the 2010-11 season, and she tied for second on the team in shooting percentage.
Gifford recorded an assist each of the first four games of the 2011-12 season. She has a team-high four assists and is tied for second in points (five). Gifford is also third in shots (20).
Junior forwards Kristine Horn (5-foot-8) and Kristina Lavoie (5-9), as well as sophomore Arielle O'Neill (5-10), generated 38% of the team's points a year ago as three of the top four point producers.
Horn ranked second on the team in assists (10) and tied for third in points (15) a year ago. As a freshman in 2009-10, she was third in assists (13) and fifth in points (21).
Horn opened the 2011-12 season with a five-game goal-scoring streak and she leads the Wildcats in goals (five). She also tallied an assist Oct. 1 at Niagara to record a multiple-point game. Horn also leads the team in points (six), power-play goals (two) and shooting percentage (.227), and she ranks second in shots (22).
Lavoie led the 2011 Wildcats in both assists (11) and points (20), and was second in both goals (nine) and shots (95); she also tied for third in plus/minus and scored a team-best three power-play goals. As a freshman, Lavoie tallied 18-11-29 to rank ninth nationally in rookie scoring as well as second on the team in goals and third in both points and plus/minus.
Through six games, Lavoie is tied for second in both points (five) and assists (two), and is second in goals (three). She already has a pair of two-point games (Sept. 30 at Niagara; Oct. 7 vs. Colgate). Lavoie is atop the team leaderboard in shots with 24.
Lavoie recorded her 50th career point with the first of her two points, a second-period assist, Sept. 30 at Niagara. She enters the weekend with 30 goals and 24 assists for 54 points.
O'Neill led the 'Cats in goals as a rookie '11 with 11 markers, and she also led the team in shooting percentage. She ranked second in both points (19) and plus/minus.
Entering this weekend's games against St. Lawrence and Clarkson, O'Neill has two points, both on assists in the Sept. 30 season opener at Niagara.
The Puck Stops Here
UNH has three goaltenders on its 2011-12 roster, but only senior Lindsey Minton entered the season with collegiate experience. Freshman Jenn Gilligan has immediately challenged Minton for playing time and fellow newcomer Moe Bradley completes the depth chart.
In fact, Gilligan has more than just challenged for playing time as she has received the starting nod in four of six games. She made 21 saves in her Sept. 30 collegiate debut, a 6-4 victory at Niagara. In her next start, Gilligan stopped 19 shots to record her first career shutout in a 3-0 win against Colgate on Oct. 7. She made a season-high 24 saves to backbone UNH to a 1-1 tied against fifth-ranked Boston College at the Whittemore Center (Oct. 14). She has a 2-1-1 record, 1.73 GAA and .916 save percentage.
Minton got the starting nod Oct. 1 at Niagara and stopped 22 of 24 shots to backbone the Wildcats to a 3-2 victory. It marked her 50th career game (48th start). In her second start, Minton made a season-high 30 saves, including 16 in the third period, in a 5-0 loss at fifth-ranked BC. It marked the fifth time in her career that Minton finished with 30+ saves.
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 30-16-2 lifetime record with a 1.91 GAA, .916 save percentage and seven shutouts.
No Longer Freshmen
Hannah Armstrong and Maggie Hunt will be veterans on the 2011-12 squad despite their sophomore status. Armstrong, a forward, recorded eight points on three goals and five assists in 29 games a year ago; she ranked second on the team in power-play goals (three) and scored one game-winning goal with assists on two other game-winning tallies. Hunt contributed four points (two goals, two assists) as a defensemen; she scored one game-winning goal and assisted on another.
Armstrong, who is tied for second on the team in assists (two), opened the 2011-12 season with a two-point weekend at Niagara University. She scored a goal in the Sept. 30 opener, then tallied an assist Oct. 1. Armstrong tallied her third point of the season Oct. 14 with an assist in the 1-1 tie vs. 5th-ranked Boston College. She is tied for second on the team – and is first among forwards – in plus/minus at +3.
Hunt recorded her first point of the 2011-12 season with an assist on the Wildcats' only goal in a 2-1 loss to Syracuse at the Whittemore Center on Oct. 8.
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.
These players account for eight of the team's 14 goals (57.1%), 13 of 15 assists (86.7%) and 21 of 29 points (72.4%), as well as 67% of the minutes in goal.
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 (listed time is start of broadcast):
Oct. 7 vs. Colgate (3-0 win)
Nov. 3 vs. Vermont, 6:55 pm
Nov. 25 vs. Maine, 6:55 pm
Nov. 29 vs. Union, 6:55 pm
Dec. 11 vs. Dartmouth, 1:55 pm
Jan. 13 vs. UConn, 6:55 pm
Feb. 4 vs. Boston U., 1:55 pm
Feb. 12 vs. Providence, 1:55 pm
Scouting the Saints
St. Lawrence University (Canton, N.Y.) enters Friday night's game with a 3-0-1 overall record that includes 2-0-1 at home. The Saints are coming off a 6-3 road victory against Niagara University on Tuesday; they did not play a game last weekend. SLU is already 1-0-1 against Hockey East teams with a 4-1 win vs. UConn and 3-3 tie against Providence.
Karell Emard has a team-high eight points and is also tied for the lead in assists (five). Vanessa Emond is tied with Emard and Rylee Smith atop the leaderboard in goals with three; Emond is tied for second in points (six) with Kelly Sabatine (1-5-6).
Carmen MacDonald has started three of the four games in goal. She is 2-0-1 with a 2.92 GAA and .889 save percentage. In one game, Caitlyn Lahonen is 1-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .947 save percentage.
SLU has outscored the opposition 7-1 in the third period and 19-10 overall.
Scouting the Golden Knights
Clarkson University (Potsdam, N.Y.) enters the weekend with a 3-1-2 overall record, including 2-0-1 at home, and plays host to Boston University on Friday night before facing off against UNH. The Golden Knights have already played three Hockey East teams and are 1-0-2 with a win against Providence and ties vs. both Vermont and UConn.
Jamie Rattray is averaging two points per game this season with 12 points (3g, 9a). Carly Mercer (3-4-7) and Danielle Skirrow (3-3-6) are the other top scorers through six games.
Erica Howe has played all 370 minutes in goal. She has a 3-1-2 record with a 2.59 GAA and .902 save percentage.
Clarkson has been outscored in the first period (7-5) but has the edge in both the second (6-4) and third (8-5). The power play has been prolific this season at 9-for-33 (27.3%); both Mercer and Skirrow have three power-play goals.
Game Day: Women's Hockey Travels to Northern NY to Face Off Against St. Lawrence and Clarkson