BOSTON -- Sara Carlson (Hutchinson, Minn.) and Jessica Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) both recorded two assists, but the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team was defeated 7-4 Saturday afternoon by Boston University at Walter Brown Arena.
UNH, which recorded a 38-26 shot advantage, moves to 9-17-2 overall and 4-10-2 in Hockey East while BU, which completed the three-game season sweep of the Wildcats, is now 19-9-1, 12-5-0.
The two assists tied career highs for both Carlson and Hitchcock, who now has a team-high 12 assists this season. UNH's goal scorers were Cassandra Vilgrain (Calgary, Alberta), Arielle O'Neill (St. Catharines, Ontario), Nicole Gifford (Ennismore, Ontario) and Jenna Lascelle (Cornwall, Ontario).
UNH starting goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara (Veikkola, Finland) stopped 12 of 17 shots in two periods and was charged with the loss. Marie-Eve Jean (Gatineau, Quebec), who entered at the start of the third period, made seven saves and allowed one goal.
BU counterpart Kerrin Sperry made 12 saves in the first period and 17 in the third as part of a 34-save effort; she was also credited with an assist on the game-winning goal. Sarah Lefort scored four goals, including an empty-netter with 1:20 remaining in regulation, and added an assist. Louise Warren (one goal, one assist) was the other Terrier who recorded multiple points.
New Hampshire opened the game with pressure in the opening minutes as Caroline Broderick (Marblehead, Mass.) and Lascelle – twice – were denied by Sperry.
In the seventh minute, Vaattovaara denied Warren twice and one minute later she turned aside two of Lefort's shots.
The Terriers took a 1-0 lead on Jordan Juron's goal at 12:40. UNH responded with pressure at the other end of the ice, but Sperry blocked away both shots by Broderick and another by Heather Kashman (Edmonton, Alberta).
Lefort extended the advantage to 2-0 on an unassisted goal – her 23rd tally of the season – at 17:15.
UNH recorded the next two shots, but Sperry made the save against both Alexis Crossley (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia) and Carlson to preserve the two-goal lead.
The Terriers opened the second period at the start of a power play, but the Wildcats' penalty kill did not allow a shot. BU was sent to the penalty box for checking at 1:55 to end the skater advantage and give the 'Cats a power play five seconds later. It was the home team that scored, however, on Warren's shorthanded goal at 2:53 to make it a 3-0 game.
New Hampshire pulled within 3-2 on goals 3:04 apart. Vilgrain, with the assistance of Hitchcock and Megan Armstrong (Edina, Minn.), put a tally in the Wildcats' scoring column with her eighth goal of the season at 6:38. O'Neill potted her sixth goal of the season at 8:32; Hitchcock and Carlson were credited with assists.
BU reestablished a three-goal lead of 5-2 heading into the second intermission with goals by Maddie Elia at 11:36 and Lefort at 19:17.
UNH opened strong in the third period, but Sperry kept the visitors at by with stops of Hitchcock and Hannah Armstrong (Keswick, Ontario). At the other end of the ice, Jean kept the 'Cats within striking distance by denying both Sarah Bayersdorfer and Kaleigh Fratkin. UNH answered with shots by O'Neill, Kayla Mork (Victoria, Minn.) and Hitchcock, but once again Sperry kept the margin at three goals.
Lefort completed her hat trick at 4:35 to give the home team a 6-2 lead, then Gifford converted Broderick's pass into her team-leading ninth goal of the season to lift the 'Cats within 6-3 at 7:37.
The Wildcats continued with pressure and shots by Hitchcock and Megan Armstrong before Jean was forced to make a save against both Warren and Elia. In the 11th minute, UNH generated a flurry of shots by Crossley, O'Neill and Hitchcock but Sperry recorded three more saves.
UNH's offensive surge continued with shots by O'Neill, Megan Armstrong and Kashman but the margin remained three goals.
Lascelle, with the assistance of Carlson, netted her third goal of the season to pull New Hampshire within 6-4 at 18:10. The 'Cats pulled Jean in favor of an extra skater with 1:35 on the clock, but Lefort shot the puck into the empty net at 18:40 to secure the victory.
UNH did not go quietly, however, as Sperry was test by Carlson and O'Neill in the final minute.
New Hampshire returns to action Sunday, Feb. 9 (2 p.m.) at home against the University of Connecticut. The Hockey East Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer game is televised live on FOX College Sports. Tickets are available at the box office or by calling (603) 862-4000.