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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) broke a 1-1 tie in the second period and Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) stopped 18 shots to lead the No. 2 University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Saturday night's 2-1 Hockey East victory against Boston College at Conte Forum.
UNH extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games (9-0-1) with its fourth consecutive win and seventh straight road win. The Wildcats are now 24-3-1 overall and clinched a berth in the Hockey East Championship tournament by improving to 14-0-1 in the league and extending its regular-season league unbeaten streak to 29-0-3. BC, which did not win a home game vs. the 'Cats for the first time in three seasons, is now 10-11-6, 6-7-2.
BC goalie Molly Schaus finished with double-digit saves all three periods (14-16-13) to finish with 43.
UNH controlled play in the first period and generated a 15-5 shot advantage, in part due to seven shots on two power-play opportunities. It was that 15th shot that finally gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead as Stefanie Marty (Nussbaumen, Switzerland) roofed a shot off a rebound at the left post with 3.6 seconds remaining in the opening stanza. Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) initiated the sequence by winning control of the puck in the right corner and flipping the puck back to Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) at the half-boards. Paton passed back to the high slot, where Nicole Goguen (Truro, Nova Scotia) fired a low, screened shot stopped by Schaus. Marty corralled the rebound, however, for her second goal in the last three games.
In the second period, the Eagles generated some dangerous scoring opportunities that Herman turned aside in the 8th and 11th minutes, and BC finally pulled even, 1-1 at 13:10 when Kelli Stack skated from the right circle across the end line, then reversed direction to curl out from the right post and backhand a shot from the top of the crease into the net.
Craig netted what proved to be the game-winning goal - and last goal of the game - when she gave the 'Cats a 2-1 lead at 17:51 of the middle stanza. Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) gathered the puck on the left wing and threw it behind the net for Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario). Hitchcock bulled her way around the right post and fired the puck on goal, only to be denied by Schaus. Craig charged, however, and jammed the puck into the net.
Early in the third period, a line change allowed Paton to sneak behind the defense and break in along on Schaus. She lost control of the puck in a deke attempt down the slot, however.
BC went on its only power play of the game with 6:30 remaining and UNH generated a dangerous shorthanded scoring chance when Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) lifted a backhander on net from the slot and Paton was denied at the left post off the rebound. UNH's penalty kill only allowed one shot on goal in the two minutes.
The Eagles were whistled for a penalty with 1:33 to play. Meghan Fardelmann made a shorthanded rush as she charged down the left side and was denied by Herman at the near post. Fardelmann made another charge in the closing seconds but lost her footing and the puck slid wide as time expired.
With an assist on the game-winning goal, Wright-Ward extended her point-scoring streak to eight games, which ties the longest by a Wildcat this season.
UNH went 0-for-4 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill, which extended the team's perfect mark to nine games and 50 kills overall.
New Hampshire returns to action at home Feb. 16 (2 p.m.) against the University of Vermont as part of Hockey East's “Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer” event. Tickets are available online at www.unhwildcats.com, by calling 1-866-WILDCAT or by visiting the Whittemore Center box office.