Wildcats win fourth straight Hockey East regular-season crown

STORRS, Conn. – Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) scored two goals and Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) recorded two assists to lead the fourth-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Friday night’s 2-1 Hockey East victory against 10th-ranked University of Connecticut at Mark E. Freitas Ice Forum. With the win, UNH clinched its fourth consecutive Hockey East regular-season title.

UNH extended its unbeaten streak to seven games (6-0-1) with its fifth consecutive win to improve to 23-3-4 overall and 15-1-1 in Hockey East. UConn is now 17-12-2, 12-5-1.

UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec), recorded 11 saves in her 82nd career victory, which is one less than the NCAA record held by Rachel Barrie (St. Lawrence U.). Bourdon’s shutout streak ended at 180:25, which marks the third-longest streak of her career.

The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on Faber’s pair of goals.. She gave the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead at 4:31 on a 2-on-1 breakaway in which she carried the puck in from the right point to the circle and flipped the puck into the upper-right corner of the net. Long set up the odd-man rush with the outlet pass in the neutral zone.

Faber struck again at 17:42 to increase the advantage to two goals. Long carried the puck into the zone in the slot and moved the puck to the left circle, where Faber made a centering pass to Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario). Paton pushed the puck down low to the left post, where an unmarked Faber stopped at the side of the net and swept the puck into the open left side of the goal.

UConn had a 5-on-3 power-play for the last 1:51 of the opening stanza, but the Huskies managed just two shots in that time and were unable to sustain offensive pressure.

In a scoreless second period, UNH recorded a 6-2 shot advantage. UConn’s most dangerous scoring opportunity came at 8:30 when Jaclyn Hawkins’ shot from the right circle caromed off the near post and off the rebound Dominque Thibault was denied in the slot by Bourdon.

The Wildcats effectively cycled the puck to control possession and generate 18 third-period shots, but a strong individual effort by Natalie Vibert pulled the home team within 2-1 at 12:37. She eluded three Wildcat skaters in the neutral zone along the right boards before firing a shot from the right circle.

UConn called time out with 2:04 remaining, but UNH won the ensuing faceoff and cycled the puck in the offensive zone before Huskies’ goalie Brittany Wilson (32 saves) covered the puck with 40 seconds to play. UNH again won the faceoff and 19 seconds ran off the clock before Wilson was able to freeze the puck. UConn finally dumped the puck in the offensive zone with 12 seconds left, but the ‘Cats worked the puck around the boards and out of the zone to secure the win.

UNH’s penalty kill went 5-for-5 and has killed off 31 consecutive shorthanded situations.

The two assists marked Long’s first multiple-assist game of her career.

New Hampshire and UConn conclude the weekend home-and-home series Feb. 18 at the Whittemore Center for UNH’s Senior Day. Game time is 2 p.m.