GAME NOTES: Women's Hockey Closes 2013 Schedule at Harvard (Dec. 6), vs. Dartmouth (Dec. 8)


The Matchups
    The UNH women's ice hockey team plays its last two regular-season non-conference games this weekend against ECAC rivals Harvard University (Dec. 6) and Dartmouth College (Dec. 8).
    The Wildcats and Crimson face off Friday at the Bright Hockey Center (7 p.m.), then the 'Cats conclude the 2013 portion of the schedule at home against the Big Green in a two o'clock tilt at the Whittemore Center. Fans are encouraged to bring a donation to Toys for Tots.
    New Hampshire has a 28-14-4 lifetime record against Harvard and that includes last year's 2-2 tie at the Whittemore Center. In the most recent meeting at Bright Hockey Center (Dec. 9, 2011), the Crimson skated to a 5-2 victory. Harvard is 2-0-2 the last four meetings. UNH had a 6-0-3 edge spanning the 2004-05 through 2009-10 seasons. The Wildcats' most recent win in the series was Feb. 17, 2009 (3-2 in overtime at Harvard).
    UNH has a 2-1-2 record the last five visits to Bright Hockey Center and is 10-6-3 vs. the Crimson at that venue.
    New Hampshire has a 34-14-4 lifetime record against Dartmouth but the Big Green has won the last two meetings, including last year's 3-2 victory at Thompson Arena. In the most recent game at the Whitt (Dec. 11, 2011), Dartmouth prevailed 8-5. Prior to DC's current two-game streak, the Wildcats won five consecutive meetings spanning January 2008 to November 2011. The 'Cats have an 18-4-2 home record in this battle of intrastate rivals with a 3-1-1 edge the last five games in Durham.

The State of New Hampshire
    New Hampshire enters the weekend with a 6-9-2 overall record that includes 4-4-1 on the road and 2-5-1 at home. The Wildcats are 1-3-0 against ECAC teams with a road split vs. St. Lawrence and a loss at both Princeton and Quinnipiac.
    UNH's penalty kill has been perfect four of the last five games with one power-play goal allowed in 15 shorthanded situations. The PK is 24-for-26 (92.3%) the past seven games.
    In the national statistics, UNH enters the weekend in the middle of the pack in both offense (19th-2.24 gpg) and defense (17th-2.47 gpg). The Wildcats rank 10th in power play (.187) and 15th in penalty kill (.864).
    New Hampshire enters the weekend with a loss in five consecutive games and a six-game winless streak (0-5-1). The Wildcats have scored a total of five goals the past five games.
    UNH was shut out for the second time this season in a 2-0 loss to The Ohio State University at the Whittemore Center on Dec. 1. The 'Cats were also blanked, 3-0, Nov. 3 at Northeastern University. UNH was shut out a total of three times last season.
    The Wildcats had a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) spanning Oct. 4-27. They went 1-6-1 in November.
    UNH did not record double-digit shots any of the six periods vs. Ohio State.
    The 'Cats went winless in four November road games (0-3-1) and ended the month with three consecutive home losses.

'Cat Nips
    In her first game since Oct. 21, 2012, redshirt freshman Jonna Curtis tallied an assist Nov. 30 against Ohio State; she has seven points (2g, 5a) in seven career games.
    Sophomore defenseman Alexis Crossley returned to the lineup last Saturday vs. Ohio State; she was sidelined by injury the previous nine games.
    Junior defenseman Jess Ryan extended her assist streak to three games with a helper last Saturday vs. the Buckeyes. She also recorded a three-game assist streak  last year.
    Junior forward Hannah Armstrong has scored four goals the last seven games.
    Senior forward Nicole Gifford won 12 of 18 faceoffs last Sunday vs. OSU; she has taken 372 draws this season and the next highest on the team is Heather Kashman at 180.

What Just Happened
    UNH was swept at home by The Ohio State University last weekend  as the Buckeyes won 3-2 (Saturday, Nov. 30) and 2-0 (Sunday, Dec. 1). OSU built a 2-0 lead in the series opener with a power-play goal late in the first period and even-strength goal midway through the second stanza; the Wildcats struck 52 seconds before the second intermission to pull within 2-1; the visitors reestablished a two-goal lead early in the third period before the 'Cats struck again midway through the final frame; OSU finished with the slight edge in shots, 26-25.
    One day later, Ohio State struck at 3:25 and 13:23 of the first period and those proved to be the game's only goals as Lisa Steffes made 21 saves to shut out the Wildcats. UNH goalie Ashley Wilkes stopped 42 of 47 shots in the two-game series and established a personal single-period high of 12 saves in the second period of Sunday's game.

What Happens Next
    Following Sunday's game vs. Dartmouth, the UNH women's ice hockey team is on hiatus until Jan. 10, 2014, when the Wildcats play host to Providence College at the Whittemore Center.

Race to Three
    UNH has a 5-0-1 record when scoring three goals in a game and is 1-6-1 when allowing three goals. On the flip side, the Wildcats are 1-9-1 when scoring less than three goals and have a 5-3-1 mark when holding the opposition to two goals or less.

Captain of the 'Cats
    Senior forward Nicole Gifford is captain of the 2013-14 Wildcats. She has tallied a point in nine of 17 games as she leads the team in goals (six), power-play goals (three) and points (12). She is also tied atop the assist leaderboard (six) and ranks second in shots (52).
    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. Gifford netted a goal in back-to-back games vs. Providence (Nov. 7) and UVM (Nov. 10). Most recently, she tallied an assist on the team's only goal vs. BU (Nov. 24).
    In the faceoff circle, Gifford has taken 372 draws (she has won 188 of them; 50.5%) – the next highest is 180 by Heather Kashman.
    Junior forward Hannah Armstrong and sophomore defenseman Alexis Crossley are the assistant captains.
    Armstrong is tied for second in points (nine), tied for third in goals (four) and tied for fifth in assists (five); she has the team's only shorthanded goal of the season and ranks fourth in shots (47). She has scored four goals the past seven games with goals in consecutive games against Providence and UVM as well as Boston U. and Ohio State. 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).
    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 missed nine consecutive games due to injury before returning to the lineup Nov. 30 against Ohio State; she did not record a point in the two-game series vs. the Buckeyes.

Special Teams
    New Hampshire enters the weekend ranked No. 10 in the nation in power play at .187 (14-for-75); last weekend, the 'Cats went scoreless in six power-play opportunities vs. Ohio State. UNH scored on 5 of 8 power plays in the weekend series at Penn State as part of three consecutive games with multiple power-play tallies (2x5 at BC; 3x5 at PSU; 2x3 at PSU). The Wildcats have scored at least one power-play goal in 8 of 17 games.
    The Wildcats are 15th in penalty kill – 34 teams are ranked – at .863 (70-for-81). The PK has been perfect four of the last five game, including a stretch of 13 consecutive successful kills, and are 14-for-15 overall during that stretch.
    Nicole Gifford leads all 'Cats with seven power-play points (3g, 4a). Sara Carlson (5a), Cassandra Vilgrain (2g, 2a) and Jess Ryan (2g, 2a) are the next 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 7 of 17 games with a total of eight points (2g, 6a) – with those stats, she is tied for the lead in assists and tied for fourth in points. She is also third in plus/minus at +3.

First Blood
    UNH has scored the game's first goal six times in 17 games and is 3-2-1 with wins at St. Lawrence (Sept. 28), at Boston College (Oct. 16) and at Penn State (Oct. 28); the losses were to Boston U. (Nov. 1) and Quinnipiac (Nov. 16). The Wildcats are 3-7-1 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 2-2-1 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 eight times (2-5-1 record) and at the second intermission six times (1-5-0).
    Seven games have been tied at the start of the third period, and the 'Cats went on to victory three times.

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 17 games this season (F-6, D-11), she has netted five goals to rank second on the team; her goal at Quinnipiac (Nov. 16) gave the 'Cats a 1-0 first period lead. O'Neill is also atop the leaderboard in shots with 65.
    Before making the transition to the blue line, O'Neill was the top 'Cat in the faceoff circle. She won 20 of 25 faceoffs vs. Maine and has a .696 faceoff win percentage (80 of 115) this season. 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
    UNH has a 1-2-0 record against nationally-ranked teams. In their first game against a nationally-ranked team this season, the Wildcats were 3-1 road victors against (then) No. 2 Boston College on Oct. 16. The 'Cats led 1-0 midway through the Nov. 16 game at No. 7 Quinnipiac, but the Bobcats netted goals late in both the second and third periods to record a 2-1 victory. Most recently, UNH and ninth-ranked BU were deadlocked 1-1 through two periods, but the visiting Terriers struck midway through the final frame to record a 2-1 victory (Nov. 24).
    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 sixth on the team.
    Carlson recorded a career-high two assists in the 3-1 win at (then) No. 2 Boston College (Oct. 16) and tallied one assist in the weekend series at Penn State. 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.
That Happened Fast
    UNH entered third period of the Nov. 10 game at Vermont with a 3-0 lead, but the Catamounts scored three times in the opening 4:10 of the final frame to level the score en route to a 3-3 tie.
    In the next game at Princeton (Nov. 15), the Tigers scored three goals in a span of 2:06 to quickly transform a scoreless game into a 3-0 lead. Princeton struck at 18:54 of the second period, then netted goals at 25 and 59 seconds of the third.

The Puck Stops Here
    The Wildcats have three goaltenders on the 2013-14 roster with two returning netminders (two sophomores) and one 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 10 games overall (all starts), Vaattovaara is 5-3-2 with a 2.37 GAA and .919 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 her 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 honored as Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week.
    Ashley Wilkes got the starting nod the last four games. She recorded a personal-best 27 saves in back-to-back games vs. BU (Nov. 24) and Quinnipiac (Nov. 16) – both were 2-1 losses for the 'Cats. In five games (all starts), she is 1-4-0 with a 2.06 GAA and .919 save percentage.
    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.
    Wilkes was honored as Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 18 following a 27-save effort against seventh-ranked Quinnipiac University. She held the Bobcats scoreless in the first period (six saves) and followed that with 10 saves in the second and 11 in the third.
    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). Her most recent action came in the 3-2 loss to RIT (Oct. 4).

She's Positive
    Junior forward Kayla Mork leads all 'Cats in plus/minus rating at +5; she is also tied for the lead in assists (six) and tied for fourth in points (eight). Mork 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 finished with multiple points (1g, 1a) in the Nov. 7 win against Providence.
    Sophomore forward Haley Breedlove ranks second on the team in plus/minus at +4.  She was out of the lineup the opening weekend at SLU but skated in every game since then. She tallied her first point of the season with a goal at home against Boston U. (Nov. 1), and netted a third-period goal at Princeton (Nov. 15).
    Both Breedlove and Mork have two goals on 11 shots for a .182 shooting percentage.

Blue Line

    Juniors Caroline Broderick and Jess Ryan as well as sophomore Megan Armstrong are logging a lot of minutes for UNH's defense, which has been hit by injury to Alexis Crossley and Kate Haslett. Crossley missed nine consecutive games before returning to the ice Nov. 30, while Haslett has been sidelined since the third game of the season.
    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 didn't record a point as a freshman and tallied three points last year, already has seven points (3g, 4a) in 17 games this season, and she recorded an assist three consecutive games vs. Quinnipiac (Nov. 16), BU (Nov. 24) and Ohio State (Nov. 30). She leads all defensemen and is fourth overall in plus/minus at +2.
    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. Ryan also netted the game-winning goal against Providence (Nov. 7) when she gave the 'Cats a 3-2 lead.
    Armstrong has four points, all on assists. She recorded three of her points the Nov. 7-10 weekend against Providence (1a) and Vermont (2a). The two assists against the Catamounts matched her personal best.

Working Overtime
    Including this season's pair of OT games, 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    2-0 loss
 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    2-0 loss
 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 Crimson
    Harvard University, led by interim head coach Maura Crowell, is ranked No. 5/4 in the nation with an 8-1-1 overall record that includes 7-1-1 in the ECAC and 5-0-1 at home. The Crimson has won three consecutive games and is on a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1). Harvard's lone loss of the season was at Rensselaer (2-1; Nov. 1).
    Harvard leads the nation in defense (1.00 goals per game) and penalty kill (.981); the offense is No. 8 (3.00 gpg) and power play is No. 4 (.216).
    Miye D'Oench has a team-high 10 points (5g, 5a) and is followed by Dylanne Crugnale (4g, 5a) and Samantha Reber (3g, 6a). Mary Parker (4g, 4a), Hillary Crowe (3g, 5a) and Sarah Edney (3g, 5a) are tied with eight points.
    Emerance Maschmeyer is the top goalie. In nine games (all starts), she is 7-1-1 with a 1.10 GAA and .960 save percentage.
    The Crimson has outscored the opposition 12-1 in the first period and 12-2 in the second. The opposition has the 7-6 scoring edge in the third.

Scouting the Big Green
    Dartmouth College enters the weekend with a 2-9-0 overall record that includes 2-7-0 in the ECAC and 1-5-0 on the road. The Big Green has lost three straight following last Sunday's 5-0 setback at Harvard. DC has defeated Colgate (2-1; Nov. 15) and Rensselaer (3-1; Nov. 2).
    Dartmouth is ranked 33rd in offense (1.36 gpg) and 28th in defense (3.36 gpg). The team is also 30th in power play (.102) and 14th in penalty kill (.870).
    Lindsey Allen (5g, 2a) has a team-high seven points and Karlee Odland (2g, 3a) is next with five points. Lindsay Holdcroft has started eight games and is 2-6-0 with a 3.12 GAA and .898 save percentage.

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