Jennifer Hitchcock posts goal and assist for Wildcats

BURLINGTON, Vt.--Jennifer Hitchcock had a goal and an assist as fourth-ranked New Hampshire survived a gritty Vermont defensive effort to post a 4-0 win in women's Hockey East action Saturday afternoon at Gutterson Fieldhouse.

Outshot by a 25-12 margin, the Catamounts (3-26-2, 1-18-1 Hockey East) held high-flying New Hampshire (25-3-5, 17-1-2) to its second fewest shot total of the season. The game was a huge improvement over the first meeting back on Dec. 2 when UNH outshot UVM, 54-5, in a 5-0 victory.

“Today was an effort we can really be proud of,” said Vermont coach Tim Bothwell. “It was a huge character test against a very good team and we passed with flying colors. Our effort level was excellent for all 60 minutes. For us to hold a team like that to less than 30 shots on goal is a tremendous accomplishment.”

Steph Holmes opened the scoring for the Wildcats midway through the first period rapping home the rebound of her own shot. Nicole Hekle gave UVM a 2-0 lead at the first intermission with her 10th of the season.

Five minutes into an evenly played second period, Hitchcock tallied her 24th of the season on the power play. UNH had only a 6-5 edge in shots in the period and Vermont had its best scoring chances in the stanza. UNH goalie Jennifer Busa made good saves on Jessica Murphy (Shoreview, Minn.) and Karen Sentoff (Liverpool, N.Y.) on the power play early on, and another solid stop on Sarah Smiddy (Grand Rapids, Mich.) late in the period.

Kacey Bellamy closed out the scoring in the third period with another power play goal for New Hampshire, who last weekend clinched the Hockey East regular season title. UNH went 2-for-7 on the power play and killed all four of Vermont’s opportunities.

UVM goalie Jenilee Roy (Sandown, N.H.) made 21 saves including several acrobatic stops throughout the contest. Busa finished with 11 in recording the shutout. Vermont senior captain Kristen Norris (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) set a new UVM record for games played Saturday skating in her 133rd contest. Norris has not missed a game in her four seasons on the Catamounts.

UVM wraps up its season hosting New Hampshire again Sunday at 2:00pm. Six Catamount seniors, Norris, Ashley Keane (Sherborn, Mass.), Kattie Anderson (Naperville, Ill.), Jenny Hogan (Santa Rosa, Calif.), Shivaun Siegl (Livonia, N.Y.) and Gabe Worzella (Madison, Conn.), will be honored at Sunday’s season finale.

For ticket information, please contact the UVM Athletic Ticket Office at 1-866-4CAT-TIX or log on to UVM students (with a valid ID) and all Rally’s Roundup members are admitted free to all home women’s hockey games.