GAME NOTES: Women's Ice Hockey On The Road vs. Princeton, Quinnipiac


The Matchups

The UNH women's ice hockey team returns to the road this weekend against ECAC foes Princeton University (Nov. 15) and seventh-ranked Quinnipiac University (Nov. 16). Both games start at 3 p.m.

UNH has a 38-5-2 lifetime record against Princeton and the last time these teams faced off – Nov. 26, 2011 – the Wildcats prevailed 3-1 at the Whittemore Center. New Hampshire has not traveled to Hobey Baker Rink since November 2003 and the 'Cats returned to Durham with a 3-0 victory; the 'Cats have a 13-4-1 lifetime record at that venue.

In that aforementioned Nov. 26. game, Nicole Gifford – then a sophomore – recorded her first (and only) career hat trick to power New Hampshire past Princeton, 3-1. The Tigers struck first at 7:40 of the first period, but Gifford leveled the score with 2:31 remaining in the stanza. She netted a second power-play goal at 9:06 of the second period and completed her hat trick 2:49 later to give the 'Cats a two-goal lead. With six power plays in the third period, Princeton recorded a 13-4 shot advantage in the frame but could not cut into the deficit; the Tigers finished 0-for-9 on the power play while UNH went 2 of 6.

UNH has an 8-0-1 lifetime record, including last year's 5-2 home win and a 3-0-1 mark on the road, against Quinnipiac. In last year's matchup (Nov. 20, 2012), the Wildcats led 3-1 at the first intermission despite the Bobcats' 10-7 shot advantage; QU pulled within 3-2 early in the second period, but UNH netted a power-play goal in both the second and third periods to secure the victory. Jessica Hitchcock (2g, 1a) and Nicole Gifford (1g, 1a) led the offense for the Wildcats, who were outshot 32-23.

In the only meeting at High Point Solutions Arena, the teams skated to a 1-1 tie Feb. 8 2011. Prior to that, UNH last visited Quinnipiac in October 2002 (5-2 and 10-0 wins), when both teams were members of the ECAC Eastern League.

After facing off a total of six times in the 2002 and 2003 seasons, the  programs did not meet again until October 2009, when the Wildcats were 4-0 victors at home.


The State of New Hampshire

New Hampshire enters the weekend with a 6-4-2 overall record that includes 2-2-1 at home, 4-2-1 on the road and 1-1-0 against ECAC representative; in a cross-reference, the Wildcats are 3-1-0 in non-conference road games.

UNH enters Friday's game with a two-game unbeaten streak following a 4-2 home win against Providence College (Nov. 7) and 3-3 tie at the University of Vermont (Nov. 10).

At the conclusion of this weekend, the Wildcats will have played nine of its 14 games on the road.

UNH's power play went 2-for-5 last Sunday at Vermont to mark the fifth time this season the Wildcats scored multiple power-play goals in a game; in the three previous games, they were a combined 0-for-16. New Hampshire ranks No. 8 in the nation in the power play at .224.

The Wildcats scored seven consecutive goals spanning consecutive games against Providence College (Nov. 7) and University of Vermont (Nov. 10). UNH erased a two-goal deficit to the Friars by scoring two goals in both the second and third periods for a 4-2 win at the Whittemore Center. The 'Cats then roared out to a 3-0 lead at UVM before surrendering three third-period goals in a 3-3 tie at Gutterson Fieldhouse.


'Cat Nips

Senior forward-turned-defenseman Arielle O'Neill recorded her 50th career point with an assist in the 3-3 tie at the University of Vermont (Nov. 10). O'Neill enters the weekend with 50 points on 26 goals and 24 assists in 112 games.

Freshman forward Cassandra Vilgrain recorded her first career multiple-assist game with a goal and two assists at UVM to factor in all three of UNH's goals. The three points also marked a personal best for the rookie and tied the highest single-game output by any UNH Wildcat this season.

Both senior forward Nicole Gifford and junior forward Hannah Armstrong scored a goal in both games last week (vs. Providence and at Vermont).

Sophomore defenseman Megan Armstrong tallied two assists at Vermont (Nov. 10) to equal her career high. One game earlier, she was credited with one assist against Providence (Nov. 7).


What Just Happened

New Hampshire went 1-0-1 last week with a 4-2 win vs. Providence at home on Nov. 7 followed by a 3-3 tie at Vermont on Nov. 10. UNH trailed on the scoreboard (2-0) and in shots (13-5) at the first intermission against PC, but Hannah Armstrong's shorthanded goal at 9:09 of the second stanza ignited the Wildcats' comeback. Kayla Mork leveled the score at 19:00 and then set up Jess Ryan's game-winning goal at 12:12 of the third period. Nicole Gifford potted an empty-net goal with 15 seconds remaining to secure the win. UNH goalie Vilma Vaattovaara finished with 28 saves and both teams went 0-for-7 on the power play.

In the Battle of the 'Cats at Gutterson Fieldhouse, the UNH Wildcats skated to a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes on Gifford's power-play goal at 14:18. Cassandra Vilgrain, who set up that tally, netted a power-play goal at 4:54 of the second stanza and also assisted on Hannah Armstrong's goal at 17:36 to extend the lead to 3-0. UVM stormed back in the third period with goals at 19 seconds, 3:54 and 4:10. New Hampshire recorded a 7-0 shot advantage in overtime but returned home with a tie. Vaattovaara was credited with 22 saves as UNH finished with a 35-25 shot advantage.


What Happens Next

New Hampshire has a single game on next week's docket, and that is a Nov. 24 home game against Boston University for Blue Out the Whitt. Game time is 2 p.m.


Captain of the 'Cats

Senior forward Nicole Gifford is captain of the 2013-14 Wildcats. She has tallied a point in seven of 12 games as she leads the team in goals (six), power-play goals (three) and points (10). She is also second in shots (41) and tied for third in assists (four). Gifford has scored a goal each of the last two games.

Gifford tallied a career-high three assists Oct. 5 vs. Syracuse, and the three points equaled a personal best. She scored the game-winning goal and recorded an assist to lead UNH to a 3-1 win at (then) second-ranked Boston College.

Junior forward Hannah Armstrong and sophomore defenseman Alexis Crossley are the assistant captains.

Armstrong, who scored a goal in both of last week's games, is tied for second on the team in assists (five) and is tied for third in both points (seven) and shots (37). Armstrong matched her personal best of two assists Oct. 26 at Penn State. She recorded an assist in consecutive home games against RIT (Oct. 4) and Syracuse University (Oct. 5) and has tallied a point in half of the team's 12 games.

Crossley was a highly decorated freshman in 2012-13 with Hockey East Second Team All-Star, All-Rookie Team, Rookie of the Month and All-Academic Team included among her accolades. Crossley recorded her first points of the 2013-14 season with a two-goal effort vs. Syracuse (Oct. 5) to tie her benchmark for goals in a game; both of those goals were scored on the power play. She tallied an assist in UNH's road win against BC (Oct. 16) and has a total of three points (2g, 1a) in six games. Crossley has been sidelined each of the last six games.


Special Teams

New Hampshire enters Friday afternoon's game ranked No. 8 in the nation in power play at .224 (13-for-58)  a 2 of performance in the most recent game at Vermont (Nov. 10) ended a stretch of three consecutive games without a power play (0-for-16).

UNH went 5-for-8 in the weekend series at Penn State and scored multiple power-play goals three consecutive games (2x5 at BC; 3x5 at PSU; 2x3 at PSU). The Wildcats have scored at least one power-play goal in 7 of 12 games.

The Wildcats are 18th in penalty kill – 33 teams are ranked – at .836 (46-for-55). UNH's combined .564 percentage ranks ninth.

Nicole Gifford leads all 'Cats with six power-play points (3g, 3a). Sara Carlson (5a), Cassandra Vilgrain (2g, 2a), Megan Armstrong (3a), Jess Ryan (2g, 1a) and Alexis Crossley (2g, 1a) are the other top point producers.


Senior Sniper

Senior forward Jessica Hitchcock is a second-year Wildcat who was also a two-year letterwinner at Niagara University. She scored a goal in her UNH debut and ended the 2012-13 season ranked third in goals (nine) and fifth in points (18). Hitchcock also ranked third in shots.

This season, Hitchcock has tallied a point in 5 of 12 games with a total of six points (1g, 5a) – with those stats, she is tied for second in assists and tied for fifth in points. In addition, Hitchcock is tied atop the plus/minus  leaderboard at +4.


First Blood

UNH has scored the game's first goal five times in 12 games and is 3-1-1 with wins at St. Lawrence (Sept. 28), at Boston College (Oct. 16) and at Penn State (Oct. 28) as well as a tie at Vermont (Nov. 10); the only loss came vs. Boston U. (Nov. 1). The Wildcats are 3-3-1 when falling behind 1-0.


Playing Catchup

UNH took a lead into the first intermission for the first time this season – the sixth game of 2013-14 – when the Wildcats held a 2-1 advantage at Boston College (Oct. 16). The 'Cats are 2-1-1 when leading through 20 minutes and 2-0-2 when taking a lead into the third period.

The Wildcats have trailed at the first intermission five times (2-2-1 record) and at the second intermission three times (1-2-0).


Color Me Blue

Senior Arielle O'Neill had never skated as a defenseman until taking the blue line Oct. 27 at Penn State. In her debut at the position, O'Neill still contributed offensively with a pair of power-play goals in the third period to propel UNH to an 8-5 victory; the two goals matched her career high. O'Neill also scored the next day in the Wildcats' 3-1 win at PSU. She was honored as Hockey East co-Player of the Week on Oct. 28 for her efforts vs. the Nittany Lions.

In 12 games this season (F-6, D-6), she has netted four goals to tie for second on the team and also has an assist for a total of five points. Her split is one goal as a forward and four points (3g, 1a) as a defenseman. O'Neill is atop the leaderboard in shots with 49.

Before making the transition to the blue line, O'Neill was the top 'Cat in the faceoff circle and won 20 of 25 faceoffs vs. Maine. She still takes the occasional draw and is 72-for-105 (.686) – still a team high – in the circle. Last year, O'Neill led UNH and ranked second in Hockey East with a .645 win percentage.

O'Neill tallied her first point of the 2013-14 season when she scored a first-period goal to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at second-ranked Boston College (Oct. 16) and that proved to be the game-winning goal. She also made a key defensive play in the third period when a her pokecheck thwarted a 3-on-1 rush and preserved UNH's 3-1 lead.


Against the Best

In its first – and only – game against a nationally-ranked team this season, UNH recorded a 3-1 road victory against (then) No. 2 Boston College on Oct. 16.

Last year, the Wildcats were 3-7-1 in 11 games against nationally-ranked opponents with home wins against BC (4-3) and Boston University (4-2) as well as a 3-1 road win against Northeastern University and a 2-2 tie at home vs. Harvard University.


Setting The Table

Sara Carlson, who was equal finisher, equal playmaker last year as a freshman with seven goals and seven assists for 14 points, leads the 2013-14 Wildcats in assists with six. She also has one goal for a total of seven points, which is tied for third on the team.

Carlson recorded a career-high two assists in the 3-1 win at (then) No. 2 Boston College (Oct. 16) and followed that with one assist in both games in the weekend series at Penn State. Overall, Carlson has a point in 6 of 12 games.

In the opening weekend of the season at St. Lawrence, Carlson tallied an assist in the first game (Sept. 27) and scored the game-winning goal the next day vs. the Saints.


Kashing In

Heather Kashman (sophomore) returns from a redshirt season in 2012-13. Injury sidelined Kashman last year after recording 10 points (7g, 3a) as a freshman in 2011-12.

Kashman began the season with a point in four of the first seven games with two-goal performances against both Maine (Oct. 13) and Penn State (Oct. 26). She tallied a goal and an assist in both those games to match her career high of two points.

In the faceoff circle, Kashman has won 57 of 128 draws (.445). She has taken the second most faceoffs on the team (behind Nicole Gifford's 266).


The Puck Stops Here

The Wildcats have three goaltenders on the 2013-14 roster with two returning netminders (two sophomores) and one incoming freshman. 

Vilma Vaattovaara had a strong start to the season with a 4-0-1 record, 2.16 GAA and .928 save percentage through October. In two Hockey East league games, she went 2-0-0 with a 1.44 GAA and .946 save percentage.

In nine games overall (all starts), Vaattovaara is 5-2-2 with a 2.30 GAA and .924 save percentage. In six Hockey East games, she is 2-2-2 with a 2.12 GAA and .928 save percentage.

Vaattovaara was honored as Hockey East co-Player of the Week following a career-high 41-save effort in a 2-1 win at St. Lawrence (Sept. 28). She made 36 saves to lead UNH to a 3-1 victory at second-ranked BC (Oct. 16) and was subsequently honored as Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week.

Vaattovaara stopped 65 of 70 shots for a .929 save percentage and 2.52 GAA in the Nov. 1-3 weekend against BU and Northeastern. She made 33 saves, including a personal single-period best 17 in the second stanza, and surrendered two goals to BU. Vaattovaara followed that with 32 saves, including 16 in the third period, at NU.

Marie-Eve Jean is 0-2-0 with a 3.55 GAA and .860 save percentage in two games (both starts) this season. She made a season-high 27 saves in the Sept. 27 season opener at SLU (4-2 loss).

Ashley Wilkes made her collegiate debut with the Oct. 28 start at Penn State University and earned her first career win, 3-1, with a 17-save effort. She blanked the Nittany Lions in both the first and third periods with five and 10 saves, respectively. The only goal allowed was on a PSU two-skater advantage.


She's Positive

Junior forward Kayla Mork leads all Wildcats (alongside Jessica Hitchcock) in plus/minus rating at +4. In 12 games, Mork has a total of six points (2g, 4a) to rank tied for fourth in assists as well as tied for fifth in points. She recorded a career-high three points with one goal and two assists Oct. 26 at Penn State; the two assists matched a personal best. Mork also tallied multiple points (1g, 1a) vs. Providence College on Nov. 7.

Jenna Lascelle, another junior forward, checks in with an overall +1 rating, which is also her rating in Hockey East league games. Lascelle has six points (2g, 4a) through 12 games. In the series at Penn State, Lascelle matched her career highs in both goals (two) and points (three) in the 8-5 win on Oct. 26; her second goal of the game broke a 5-5 tie with 3:39 remaining in regulation. She also recorded a goal in the season opener at SLU and an assist vs. Maine (Oct. 13). Most recently, she tallied an assist vs. Boston U. (Nov. 1).


Blue Line

Juniors Caroline Broderick and Jess Ryan as well as sophomore Megan Armstrong are logging innumerable minutes for UNH's defense, which has been hit by injury to Alexis Crossley and Kate Haslett.

Broderick has also contributed four points (2g, 2a). She recorded her first career multiple-point game with a goal and an assist Oct. 26 at Penn State. She tallied her first point of the season with a goal Sept. 28 at St. Lawrence and was credited with an assist vs. Maine (Oct. 13).

Ryan, who tallied a total of three points – all on assists – in two seasons, has increased her offensive output, in part because of a larger role on the power-play unit. Ryan scored her first career goal and finished the game with two goals – both on the power play – to lift UNH to 3-1 win at Penn State (Oct. 27). She opened the game scoring and then struck again to give the 'Cats a 2-0 lead.

In the Nov. 7 game at home vs. Providence, Ryan broke a 2-2 tie with a goal in the third period and that proved to be the game-winning goal in the 4-2 victory. In 12 games, Ryan has tallied four points (3g, 1a). She leads all defensemen and is fourth overall in plus/minus at +2.

Armstrong entered the Nov. 7 game against PC with one point in 10 games, but she was credited with an assist vs. the Friars and matched her personal best of two assists at Vermont (Nov. 10). Armstrong is tied for fourth on the team with four assists.


Immediate Dividends

Freshman forward Cassandra Vilgrain, a two-time Hockey East Rookie of the Week (Sept. 30, Oct. 28) has four goals and four assists for eight points to rank second on the squad in points, tied for second in goals and tied for fourth in assists. She is also tied for third in shots (37).

Vilgrain, who has a point in 6 of 12 games, recorded her first multiple-assist game (two) as part of a career-high three points Nov. 10 at Vermont. She tallied her first career point Sept. 28 with an assist at St. Lawrence. Vilgrain netted her first goal Oct. 13 vs. Maine; she scored a goal each of the next two games at (then) No. 2-ranked Boston College and at Penn State as part of a team-best four-game point streak.

Vilgrain is UNH's top point producer in Hockey East league games with five points (3g, 2a) in six contests.


Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine

Sophomore forward Brittney Redlick scored six goals to account for all six of her points in 26 games played last season. She recorded her first point of the season on her first career assist in a 4-2 win against Providence on Nov. 7.


Quiet Contributor

Sophomore forward Haley Breedlove was out the opening weekend at SLU but skated in each of the last 10 games. She tallied her first point of the season with a goal at home against Boston U. (Nov. 1), and Breedlove ranks third among all Wildcats in plus/minus (+3).


Working Overtime

Including two ties this season, each of UNH's last six regular-season overtime games have ended in a tie – the Wildcats were defeated in OT of the 2013 Hockey East quarterfinal (5-4 at home by Providence College) after all four regular-season overtime games were ties.

The most recent UNH win or loss in a regular-season OT game was a 4-3 loss at Maine (Feb. 18, 2012). Earlier in the season, the 'Cats prevailed 3-2 in overtime against Union College on Nov. 29, 2011.


Lights. Camera. Action!

The UNH women's ice hockey team will have four home games broadcast on television – two on the Live Well Network (sister station of WBIN-TV) and two on Fox College Sports. Here is the schedule:

 Sat. Oct. 5 Syracuse Live Well Network 3-2 win

 Sun. Dec. 1 Ohio State Live Well Network 1 pm

 Sun. Feb. 9 UConn Fox College Sports 2 pm

 Sat. Feb. 15 Vermont Fox College Sports 2 pm


On The Air

  A total of nine games will be broadcast on the Wildcats Sports Radio Network – Fox Sports WPKX-AM 930 (Dover-Portsmouth-Rochester) and WGIR-AM 610 (Manchester). Here is that schedule:

 Sun. Oct. 13 Maine 2-2 tie

 Thur. Nov. 7 Providence 4-2 WIN

 Sun. Dec. 1 Ohio State 12:45 pm

 Sun. Dec. 8 Dartmouth 1:45 pm

 Fri. Jan. 10 Providence 6:45 pm

 Sun. Jan. 19 UConn 1:45 pm

 Sun. Feb. 9 UConn 1:45 pm

 Sat. Feb. 15 Vermont 1:45 pm

 Sun. Feb. 23 Northeastern 1:45 pm


Scouting the Tigers

Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.) enters Friday's game vs. UNH with a 4-2-0 overall record, all in ECAC conference games. The Tigers return home after a sweep of Yale (3-2) and Brown (5-2) last weekend that extended their win streak to three games.

Both losses of Princeton's losses have been to teams ranked in the top 10. The Tigers are 1-1-0 at home with a 5-4 loss to Cornell (Nov. 1) and 6-2 win vs. Colgate (Nov. 2).

Rose Alleva leads the team with nine points on five goals and four assists. Jaimie McDonell  (3-3-6), Sally Butler (1-5-6) and Gabie Figueroa  (0-6-6) are the other top point producers.

Kimberly Newell  has a 3-2-0 record and won both games last weekend. She has a 3.47 GAA and .887 save percentage in five games (all starts). Ashley Holt has played in two games (one start) and has a 1.21 GAA and .952 save percentage.

In the national stats, Princeton is No. 7 in offense (3.50 gpg) and No. 20 in defense (2.83 gpg) as well as 24th in power play (.138) and last – 34th – in penalty kill (.650).


Scouting the Bobcats

Quinnipiac University, ranked No. 7 in the nation, enters the weekend with an 8-1-3 overall record that includes 3-0-1 at home and 3-1-2 in the ECAC. The Bobcats play host to Boston College on Nov. 16 before facing off against the UNH Wildcats.

Last weekend, QU skated to a 3-1 win at Brown (Nov. 8) and scoreless tie at Yale (Nov. 9) to extend its unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2). One week earlier, the Bobcats defeated Colgate (6-0) and tied Cornell (1-1), both at home.

Kelly Babstock is the team leader in goals (eight), assists (10) and points (18). She is followed by Emma Woods (6-7-13) and Nicole Connery (4-9-13).

Chelsea Laden has played all 12 games with 11 starts. She is 8-1-3 with a .957 save percentage, 0.85 GAA and five shutouts.

Quinnipiac has outscored the opposition 37-12 overall, including an impressive 17-2 in the third period with a 136-66 shot advantage in that frame.

In the national stats, QU is No. 11 in offense (3.08 gpg) and No. 2 in defense (1.00 gpg) as well as No. 11 in power play (.192) and No. 8 in penalty kill (.907).

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