Jennifer Hitchcock scores game-tying goal for Wildcats

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) netted a pair of third-period goals to propel the third-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s hockey team to Friday night’s 3-3 tie against fourth-ranked Harvard University at Bright Hockey Center.

UNH is now 14-2-2 overall with a 2-0-2 mark in games decided by overtime. Harvard, winless in four straight vs. the Wildcats at 0-3-1, is now 11-2-1 this season.

Trailing 3-1 at the outset of the third period, UNH pulled even on goals two goals by Hitchcock to force a five-minute overtime session. Hitchcock extended her goal-scoring streak to six games with her team-leading 13th tally of the season at 6:30. Maggie Joyce (Norfolk, Mass.) battled to keep the puck in the offensive zone at the left point and Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) fought for possession along the dashers. Hitchcock skated away with the puck and her shot from the left circle found the back of the net to pull UNH within 3-2.

Three minutes later, UNH goalie Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec) stoned Randi Griffin to keep the margin at one goal.

The ‘Cats went on their fifth power play of the game with 3:36 remaining in regulation and called time out. A high shot by Martine Garland (Toronto,Ontario) from the high slot was redirected by Hitchcock, who was positioned in the slot, at 16:53. Wright-Ward was credited with an assist on the play.

The Crimson went on the power play 1:59 into overtime and Bourdon stopped their best opportunity, a Jenny Brine wrist shot from the left circle that she snared with her glove.

Bourdon finished with 19 saves, including four in OT. Harvard goalie Christina Kessler stopped 33 shots, two of which were in the extra session.

In the first period, Harvard weathered an early UNH storm, which included a flurry of power-play shots, to take a 2-0 lead on goals by Liza Solley (at 11:34) and Sarah Vaillancourt (15:38). Solley opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 rush in which she carried the puck deep into the right circle and fired a shot that deflected high off Bourdon’s shoulder and eventually trickled across the goal line. A series of quick passes set up the Crimson’s next tally. Sarah Wilson, from mid-ice, connected with Julie Chu at the top of the right circle. Chu sent the puck across to Vaillancourt, who then maneuvered to the front of the net and deposited a shot into the open right side.

The Wildcats pulled within 2-1 at 17:50 when Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) snapped a wrist shot through traffic from the left circle for her 11th goal of the season.

In the second period, UNH once again was effective at cycling the puck and forechecking to keep pressure on Harvard’s defense but it was the Crimson who scored the only goal of the stanza to extend the lead to 3-1. Caitlin Cahow, from Vaillancourt behind the net, netted a power-play goal on a shot from the slot at 15:17.

The ‘Cats, who recorded a 16-5 shot advantage in the second period, almost produced a quick response but Kessler stopped a close-range shot by Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) and twice denied Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) at the right post. In the waning minutes of the stanza, Hitchcock charged out of the left corner and slid a pass across the crease, but an unmarked Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba) was unable to redirect the puck.

New Hampshire concludes the 2006 calendar year Dec. 10 at home against intrastate rival Dartmouth College. The game, which will be preceded by a Russell J. McCurdy Gallery dedication ceremony at 1 p.m., begins at 2 p.m. at the Whittemore Center.