November 24, 2013

Wilkes Matches Career High of 27 Saves; Women's Hockey Edged 2-1 By No. 9 Boston U.

DURHAM, N.H.Ashley Wilkes (North Pole, Alaska) matched her career high of 27 saves but the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team was defeated 2-1 by ninth-ranked Boston University on Sunday afternoon at the Whittemore Center. 

UNH is now 6-7-2 overall and 2-3-2 in Hockey East. BU, which also recorded a 3-1 victory against the Wildcats at the Whitt earlier this month, improves to 11-3-1, 7-0-0.

Wilkes recorded nine saves each period to equal her career mark of 27, which was established the previous game – Nov. 16 at seventh-ranked Quinnipiac University. BU counterpart Kerrin Sperry made 11 saves in both the first and third periods as part of a 29-save effort. Kayla Tutino led the offense with a goal and an assist, including the game-winning tally that broke a 1-1 tie at 11:14 of the third period. 

BU took a 1-0 lead at 8:01 of the first period on a breakaway goal by Sarah Lefort, who collected Tutino's outlet pass in the neutral zone and skated into the offensive zone on the left wing. Lefort snapped a wrist shot into the upper-left corner for her eighth goal of the season. Samantha Sutherland was also credited with an assist.

UNH went on the first power play of the game at 11:43. Moments later, Lefort was alone in front of the net for a shorthanded bid, but Wilkes made the save to keep the 'Cats within one goal. With 2:30 remaining in the opening stanza, Nicole Gifford (Ennismore, Ontario) snapped a wrister stopped by Sperry, who also denied Jessica Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) off the rebound at the top of the crease. 

The Wildcats trailed 1-0 at the first intermission with an 11-10 shot advantage.

It was an eventful second period. A campus-wide power outage caused a 30-minute delay of the game just 1:28 into the stanza and the teams combined for eight minor penalties. New Hampshire was whistled for five infractions, including successive penalties at 8:45, 9:45 and 10:33 to give BU an extended power play opportunity. 

Prior to that – at 7:30 – the Terriers' Louise Warren skated down the slot on a breakaway. She made a couple of dekes as she closed in on the cage, but Wilkes stood her ground and made the save. UNH's penalty kill then had a highly-successful stretch in which it did not allow a shot on goal despite facing a two-skater disadvantage for 61 seconds.

With the teams back at full strength, Lefort's shot from the right faceoff dot ricocheted off the pipe at 13:30. The Wildcats went on their second power play of the middle stanza at 14:45 and scored 43 seconds later (at 15:28) to tie the score, 1-1. From the right boards, Hitchcock initiated the scoring sequence with a pass to Gifford at the right point. Gifford slid the puck to the high slot, where Jess Ryan (Cloquet, Minn.) executed a quick touch pass to the top left and the blast off the stick of Hannah Armstrong (Keswick, Ontario) deflected off a defender, who was positioned in front of the net, and inside the left post. 

In the closing minute of the second period, UNH's Heather Kashman (Edmonton, Alberta) had a dangerous scoring bid from between the faceoff hashmarks in the slot, but Sperry turned aside the shot to keep the game tied. At the second intermission, both the score (1-1) and shots (19-19) were even.

In the fourth minute of the third period, Sutherland broke into the zone on the right wing and, with Gifford retreating into position, fired a shot that tested Wilkes. The 'Cats quickly counterattacked and Haley Breedlove (Plano, Texas) corralled a loose puck in the slot. She shot a high wrister that Sperry gloved. 

At 8:30, Lefort skated down the slot and her high shot was snared by Wilkes' glove. Two minutes later, Taylor Holze's initial shot was stopped by Wilkes, who also stoned Jordan Juron at the right post off the rebound.

BU regained the lead, 2-1, when Tutino pucked up a loose puck in front of her bench in the neutral zone, entered the zone unimpeded at the left point and hit the upper-left corner of the net at 11:14. 

With four minutes remaining, Hitchcock snuck behind the defense for a breakaway down the slot. She attempted to deke Sperry, but the goalie stood her ground to make the save.

The Terriers were whistled for checking at 16:10. UNH called time out and pulled Wilkes in favor of an extra skater to give the 'Cats a two-skater advantage. Arielle O'Neill (St Catharines, Ontario) blasted a screened slap shop from the slot that Sperry stopped. The rebound went to the left boards, where a battle for the puck resulted in a slashing call against UNH. 

With both teams back at full strength, the Wildcats once again pulled Wilkes with 1:24 on the clock but they were unable to get a shot on goal the rest of the way as Gifford's jam attempt at the right post went wide of the cage with one minute remaining and, just moments later, O'Neill's shot from the slot was blocked by a BU skater.

UNH finished with a 30-29 shot advantage and 1-for-5 on the power play. BU was scoreless on five power play chances. 

New Hampshire continues its homestand with a two-game series next weekend against The Ohio State University. The teams face off Nov. 30 (2 p.m.) and Dec. 1 (1 p.m.).

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