ERIE, Pa. - Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) and Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) scored third-period goals for the No. 1-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team, but sixth-ranked Mercyhurst College fended off UNH's late rally to record a 4-3 non-conference victory Friday night at Mercyhurst Ice Center.
UNH, which entered the game with the nation's second-longest unbeaten streak of six games (6-0-0) and a 6-1-0 record against nationally-ranked teams, is now 15-3-0. Mercyhurst, which upended the Wildcats 2-1 last November in Durham, is now 13-2-2.
Trailing 4-1 in the third period, UNH went on its seventh power play of the game at 2:13. Mercyhurst goaltender Laura Hosier (26 saves) turned aside Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) and Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) from point-blank range in the fourth minute, then at the other end of the ice UNH goalie Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) stoned Valerie Chouinard in a 2-on-0 shorthanded breakaway.
Moments after the power play ended, a pass thrown across the slot found Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) at the left post, but Hosier slid across the crease to make the save.
The Wildcats' pressure finally resulted in Wright-Wards goal at 8:54, which lifted New Hampshire within 4-2. Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) carried the puck through the right circle towards the slot and sent a pass through the crease to Wright-Ward, who scored on a shot from the left doorstep.
Mercyhurst called time out at that point but UNH maintained pressure. The Wildcats went on the power play again at 16:39 and called time out. They pulled Herman in favor of an extra skater 38 seconds later and Faber struck 14 seconds after that to pull the 'Cats within 4-3 at 17:31. Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.), with the pass that caromed to Faber, and Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) were credited with assists.
UNH was whistled for a penalty at 18:05 but pulled Herman again with 1:10 to play. Mercyhurst prevented the visitors from generating an attack, however, to preserve its lead.
The Lakers quickly took a 1-0 lead 10 seconds into the gamed when Chouinard's shot from the right circle slipped inside the near post. Jesse Scanzano and Melissa Lacroix set up that tally.
UNH generated a handful of quality scoring chances, the first of which came five minutes into the game when Wright-Ward one-timed Jennifer Hitchcock's (LaSalle, Ontario) centering pass in the low slot, but MC goalie Laura Hosier made the left leg pad save. Minutes later, Faber maneuvered down the right side of the slot but was denied off a wrist shot. She then set up Wright-Ward, whose bid from the inner part of the right circle was turned aside by Hosier.
Mercyhurst extended its lead to 2-0 at 13:12 of the opening stanza when Agosta fended off a defender on a breakaway down the slot and cut to the right before slipping the puck inside the post.
The Wildcats opened the second period on the power play, but they surrendered their first shorthanded goal of the season when Agosta carried the puck along the right dashers in a 2-on-1 rush and lifted a shot into the upper-right corner at 1:26.
UNH went on its third power play of the night at 4:00 and trimmed the deficit to 3-1 at 4:37. Wakefield initiated the sequence as she circled behind the net to the left side. Long collected that centering pass and fired a shot that was stopped by Hosier, but the rebound went back to the slot and Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) lifted the puck into the net for her sixth goal of the season.
New Hampshire was awarded a two-skater advantage for 78 seconds when the Lakers were sent to the penalty box at 4:59 and 5:41. The 'Cats generated just one shot on goal, however, and did not record a shot in the remaining 42 seconds of the extended power play opportunity. They did generate a 3-on-1 break off a turnover just outside the offensive zone, but Hosier stoned Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) in the slot.
MC took a 4-1 lead at 13:34 of the second period when Melissa Dianoski's centering pass from the left circle was redirected into the net by Ashley Cockell.
This marked just the second time this season that UNH trailed by two goals -- and three goals -- at any point during a game; the first occurrence was Oct. 6 at St. Lawrence (3-0 loss).
UNH went 2-for-8 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
New Hampshire and Mercyhurst conclude the two-game series Dec. 8 (3 p.m.) at the Mercyhurst Ice Center. The Wildcats wrap up the 2007 calendar schedule Dec. 14 (7 p.m.) at home against second-ranked Harvard University at the Whittemore Center. Tickets for that game are available online at www.unhwildcats.com and videostreaming will be available at UNHwildcats.tv.