ERIE, Pa. - Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) tallied three points with two goals and an assist and Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) recorded a career-high 26 saves to lead the No. 1-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 5-2 non-conference victory against sixth-ranked Mercyhurst College at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.
UNH, which scored all five goals on special teams with four power-play tallies and a shorthanded strike, improved to 7-2-0 against nationally-ranked teams and 16-3-0 overall. MC, which fended off the Wildcats for a 4-3 win Friday night, is now 13-3-2.
Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) and Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) both recorded two assists and Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) also finished with multiple points with a goal and assist. Mercyhurst goalie Laura Hosier stopped 33 shots.
With the score tied, 2-2, at the start of the third period, UNH went on a power play at 2:31. Midway through that skater advantage, a Wildcat turnover led to Meghan Agosta's breakaway down the slot, but Herman slid across the crease to stop the shot at the right doorstep.
The Lakers went on their ninth power play of the day at 7:03, but the Wildcats took their first lead of the game on their first shorthanded goal of the season. Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) intercepted a pass at mid-ice and carried the puck into the offensive zone on the right wing. She centered the puck to Paton, who fended off a defender and deked Hosier for a 3-2 UNH lead at 7:16.
New Hampshire extended its lead to 5-2 with power-play goals 30 seconds apart by Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) and Hitchcock. The Wildcats gained a 5x3 advantage when the Lakers were whistled for penalties at 12:43 and 13:57. UNH called time out before the start of its two-skater advantage and needed only 13 seconds to capitalize when Garland’s shot from the left point caromed off Wakefield into the net at 14:10. Bellamy, with the pass to Garland, was also credited with an assist. The 'Cats struck again at 14:40 when Hitchcock, positioned in the slot, redirected Garland’s blast into the cage. Wright-Ward set up that tally with the pass to Garland.
Mercyhurst called time out at that point but was unable to solve Herman the rest of the way.
The Lakers, who killed off consecutive shorthanded situations in the opening six minutes of the game, converted on their first power-play opportunity to take a 1-0 lead at 7:00 when Agosta moved from the left point to the high slot and fired a high shot into the net. Valerie Chouinard and Stephanie Jones were credited with assist.
Moments before MC went on the power play, UNH had generated a flurry at the end of its extra skater opportunities. In the fifth minute of play, Faber was denied in the slot when her shot deflected off Hosier and the left post. Just over one minute later, Hitchcock was denied by Hosier at the right doorstep and off the rebound fired a shot wide of the net. The puck carried around to the left circle, where Wright-Ward’s screened shot was also stopped by Hosier.
In the middle of the first period, UNH's penalty-kill unit kept the home team's lead at one goal by denying the Lakers the opportunity to organize an attack during their 4x3 opportunity (23 seconds) and the 5x3 advantage (17 seconds). Near the end of the extended power-play situation, Herman then kept the ‘Cats within 1-0 when she made a left leg pad save to stop Agosta.
Minutes later, Herman made another strong save when she turned aside Chouinard on a turn-and-fire shot from the. With UNH on its fourth power play of the opening stanza, Hosier made saves against Bellamy from the high slot and Wakefield on a close-range backhand attempt off that rebound. In the closing minute, Faber was once again stopped by Hosier on a quick transition attack in the slot.
Early in the second period, the 'Cats threatened on the power play when Faber's shot deflected off Hosier and the right post, then Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) was stopped at the right post.
In the fifth minute of the stanza, Agosta intercepted Herman’s clearing attempt, but the rookie goalie scurried back into position to turn aside both Agosta and Vicki Bendus.
The Lakers extended their lead to 2-0 when Jesse Scanzano scored a power-play goal from a scrum in front of the net at 5:59.
One minute later, a UNH flurry resulted in close-range shots on goal by Long, Steph Holmes (Rye, N.Y.) and a second shot by Long. The 'Cats finally broke through at 7:59 when Wright-Ward's low shot in the slot sailed into the net. Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) carried the puck into the zone and slid the puck to Hitchcock, who cut from the slot to the right circle before connecting with Wright-Ward.
New Hampshire continued to carry play and struck again at 13:11. Bellamy made the pass across the slot to Wright-Ward in the left circle, and the senior forward lifted a shot into the upper-right corner of the net to tie the score, 2-2. Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario), who moved the puck from the right post to Bellamy in the right circle, was also credited with an assist.
Mercyhurst was awarded a penalty shot at 16:19. Agosta charged down the slot and shot 5-hole, but Herman stood her ground and made the save, then turned and swept the puck away from the goal line as it trickled behind her.
The Wildcats' penalty kill unit excelled late in the stanza as the 'Cats were whistled for three penalties in the last 3:20, which gave MC a 5x3 advantage for 45 seconds.
UNH was whistled for 17 penalties for 50 minutes - both school single-game records - and MC accumulated 52 penalty minutes on 18 infractions. The Wildcats were 4-for-12 on the power play and the Lakers converted two of 11 opportunities.
New Hampshire wraps up the 2007 calendar schedule Dec. 14 (7 p.m.) at home against second-ranked Harvard University at the Whittemore Center. Tickets are available online at www.unhwildcats.com and videostreaming will be available at UNHwildcats.tv.