DURHAM, N.H. – The Ohio State University women's ice hockey team scored twice in the first period and Lisa Steffes made it stand with a 21-save effort to shut out the University of New Hampshire in a 2-0 victory Sunday afternoon at the Whittemore Center.
UNH is now 6-9-2 overall while OSU, which completed the series sweep following Saturday's 3-2 win, improves to 5-9-2.
UNH goaltender Ashley Wilkes (North Pole, Alaska) made 12 of her 19 saves in the second stanza. Steffes' single-period high was eight in the final frame as the Wildcats recorded an 8-2 shot advantage in the final 20 minutes.
The Buckeyes took a 1-0 lead at 3:25 of the first period by capitalizing on a 2-on-1 rush. Danielle Gagne corralled Melani Moylan's outlet pass in the neutral zone and advanced down the right wing. As she approached the faceoff doe, Gagne snapped a wrist shot into the upper-right corner for her third goal of the season.
OSU extended the advantage to 2-0 at 13:23. From the left half-boards, Julia McKinnon slipped a pass to Sara Schmitt in the near circle and her low blast was redirected into the cage by Claudia Kepler, who was positioned in front of the right post.
UNH was whistled for hitting from behind just 33 seconds later, but the Wildcats' penalty kill was stout and allowed just one shot attempt, and that attempt off the stick of Schmitt was stopped by Wilkes.
In the third minute of the second period, Wilkes skated to the bench with a delayed penalty call against Ohio State. One shot by Sara Carlson (Hutchinson, Minn.) was blocked by a Buckeye skater and Megan Armstrong (Edina, Minn.) was denied by Steffes before OSU gained control of the puck to send a player to the penalty box for interference at 3:40.
The Buckeyes penalty kill did not allow a shot the next two minutes, but the visitors were shorthanded moments later when another skater committed a tripping infraction at 6:12.
OSU had a shorthanded rush in which Ally Tarr carried the puck down the left wing and centered a pass to the slot. Schmitt's shot deflected off Wilkes and continued to the net but Jess Ryan (Cloquet, Minn.) retreated back to the left post and cleared the puck out of the crease.
With seven minutes remaining in the second period, Nicole Gifford (Ennimore, Ontario) flipped a backhander from the slot that sailed past Steffes but caromed off the crossbar.
Wilkes made seven saves the rest of the stanza to keep the 'Cats within two goals.
UNH went on its fourth power play of the game at 6:16 of the third period. The Wildcats sustained pressure immediately as Jonna Curtis (Elk River, Minn.) snapped a shot from the left circle and, off the rebound, Arielle O'Neill (St. Catharines, Ontario) blasted a slap shot from the high slot that Steffes steered aside. Moments later, Ryan's bouncing shot from the right circle ricocheted off the near post.
With 8:10 left in regulation, Alexis Crossley (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia) fired a screened slap shot from the high slot but Steffes made the save. Hannah Armstrong (Keswick, Ontario), who was streaking down the slot, corralled the puck off the rebound and chipped a shot on goal that Steffes smothered.
UNH called timeout with 3:10 remaining and pulled Wilkes in favor of an extra skater. The Wildcats were able to maintain possession, but OSU effectively kept the 'Cats on the perimeter until O'Neill's shot was stopped by Steffes with 2:30 on the clock. The Buckeyes cleared the puck through the neutral zone and the home team was whistled offsides with 1:11 to play.
The Wildcats won the faceoff and immediately dumped the puck deep, but OSU retreated and swiftly deposited the puck into the neutral zone with 57 seconds to go. UNH once again sent the puck deep with 50 seconds remaining and the Buckeyes were whistled for icing with 26 on the clock. The visitors called time out, won the ensuing faceoff and sent the puck the length of the ice to end the game.
New Hampshire returns to action Friday, Dec. 6 (7 p.m.) at Harvard University. The Wildcats close out the 2013 portion of their schedule Dec. 8 (2 p.m.) at home against intrastate rival Dartmouth College.