ORONO, Maine – Jenn Gilligan (Maple Ridge, British Columbia) recorded a career-high 44 saves, including 20 in the third period, but the University of Maine women's ice hockey team overcame a three-goal, third-period deficit to record a 4-3 overtime victory Saturday afternoon against the University of New Hampshire at Alfond Arena.
UNH falls to 10-20-3 overall and 4-14-2 in Hockey East with its sixth consecutive loss overall and 11th straight road loss. Maine, which has won four of the last five games (4-1-0) in the series and defeated the Wildcats for the first time at Alfond Arena (1-15-2), improved to 16-10-6, 10-8-2.
Despite the loss, UNH remains sixth in the Hockey East standings by virtue of the University of Connecticut's 3-2 overtime loss to ninth-ranked Boston University. The Wildcats are one point ahead of UConn – and hold the tiebreaker advantage – with one game remaining in the regular season. UNH will secure the last league tournament berth by virtue of either a win or tie Feb. 19 at Maine or a loss or tie by UConn vs. BU.
Gilligan's 20-save effort in the third period was just short of the school single-period record of 22 established by All-American Jen Huggon on Feb. 4, 2001 against Brown University.
Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) led the Wildcats' offense with her second consecutive two-goal game and third multiple-goal effort in the last four games. Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.) recorded an assist on both of Lavoie's goals to match her career high of two assists.
Maine goaltender Brittany Ott stopped 17 shots as the Black Bears erased the three-goal deficit with a 23-2 shot advantage in the third period and a 5-1 edge in OT. Danielle Ward finished with a goal and two assists while Missy Denk (one goal, one assist), Dawn Sullivan (1g, 1a) and Melissa Gagnon (2a) also tallied multiple points.
UNH recorded a 10-6 shot advantage in the scoreless first period, and that included a seven-minute stretch (eighth through 15th minute) in which the Wildcats outshot the hosts by a 7-0 margin.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead at 2:32 of the second period on Lavoie's team-leading 16th goal of the season and Horn's 16th assist of the year.
Maine immediately responded with pressure and recorded the next four shots on goal, but Gilligan turned them all aside to preserve New Hampshire's newfound one-goal lead.
The Wildcats went on the first power play of the game at 8:39, but Ott twice denied Jenna Lascelle (Cornwall, Ontario) during the skater advantage to keep the margin at two goals.
Maine gained momentum from the penalty kill and peppered Gilligan with six shots over the next three minutes, 30 seconds.
Lavoie scored her second goal of the game – her team-leading sixth power-play goal of the season – at 17:47 of the second stanza. Horn was credited with her team-leading 17th assist of the season.
Gilligan withstood a flurry of 10 shots in the opening six minutes of the third period, but Denk potted a goal at 6:30 to end the shutout bid and lift Maine within 3-1. The Black Bears clawed to a 3-3 tie within two minutes, as Kayla Kaluzny and Sullivan scored 19 seconds apart – at 8:11 and 8:30, respectively.
Maine continued to press and generated a 4-1 shot advantage the next five minutes, and then a 3-0 edge for three minutes to give the home team a 20-1 shot advantage through 17:25 of the third period.
Mork recorded the first shot of the extra session, but at the other end of the ice Gilligan was forced to make four saves in a two-minute span.
Both teams had a skater sent to the penalty box at 3:03, and Ward completed Maine's comeback with a 4-on-4 goal 20 seconds later to end the game.
UNH entered the game unbeaten when leading at the end of two periods (8-0-0) and in overtime (2-0-3). The Wildcats were unbeaten in nine previous overtime games (4-0-5) dating back to Oct. 9, 2010 (1-0 at Colgate University).