DURHAM, N.H. - Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario), Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) and Stefanie Marty (Nussbaumen, Switzerland) each scored two goals to lead the No. 2 University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 7-0 Hockey East victory against the University of Vermont at the Whittemore Center.
UNH won its fifth consecutive game to extend its unbeaten streak to 11 games (10-0-1) and improve to 25-3-1 overall and 15-0-1 in Hockey East. The Wildcats will clinch a share of the league regular-season title with a win Sunday (2 p.m.) at home vs. UVM, which is now 5-23-1 overall and 1-14-1 in Hockey East.
It marked the first career multiple-goal game for both Birchard, who also tied her personal mark of two assists for a career-high four points, and Marty. Hitchcock also tallied two assists for a season-high four points.
Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) recorded 12 saves to notch her fifth career shutout and second of the season against the Catamounts. UVM goalie Kristen Olychuck stopped 31 shots, including 14 in a scoreless second period.
Three other Wildcats recorded multiple points as Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) tallied a goal and an assist and both Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) and Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) were credited with two assists.
Marty, with a goal in three of the last four games, quickly gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead with a tally at 1:17 of the first period when she redirected a shot from the left point by Maggie Joyce (Hudson, Ohio).
Hitchcock, who netted both of her goals on the power play, scored off a rebound at 17:33 and Birchard potted a 4x4 goal at 19:35. Birchard initiated the sequence on the teamís second goal by moving the puck from the right circle to the high slot, where Craig fired a shot that Olychuck stopped. Hitchcock corralled the rebound at the right post, however, and lifted the puck into the net. Birchard, who had hit the crossbar earlier in the game, then snapped a wrist shot from the slot into the net following a steal in the neutral zone by Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.).
New Hampshire recorded a 14-3 shot advantage in the second period but did not expand its three-goal cushion. One of the better scoring chances was in the 13th minute, when hard work by Steph Holmes (Rye, N.Y.) and Angela Taylor (Paisley, Scotland) produced Shannon Siskís (Pipersville, Pa.) shot from the slot that caromed off the right post.
Marty (with the assistance of Wright-Ward) and Wakefield (from Birchard and Hitchcock) scored goals 30 seconds apart early in the final frame - at 1:38 and 2:08 - to quickly give the home team a 5-0 advantage. Hitchcock struck again at 7:18 when she scored off her own rebound in front; Wakefield and Craig were credited with assists on the goal, which gave UNH a 6-0 lead. Birchard closed the scoring at 11:27 on a shot from the high slot that was set up by Hitchcock and Julia Marty (Nussbaumen, Switzerland).
Wright-Ward, who extended her point-scoring streak to nine games, moved into the top 10 on UNHís career assist leaderboard. Her two-assist effort increased her total to 84, which is No. 10.
With Stefanie Marty scoring two goals and Julia Marty tallying an assist, this marked the first time that both of the freshman twins recorded a point in the same game.
The Wildcats are now perfect on the penalty kill in 10 consecutive games and 56 shorthanded situations overall with a 6-for-6 effort vs. the Catamounts.
UNH topped 1,000 fans at the Whittemore Center for the fourth time this season with 1,011 in attendance Saturday for Hockey East's Second Annual "Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer." The other occasions were Dec. 14 vs. Harvard University (1,012) and Nov. 17 & 18 vs. Wisconsin (1,196; 1,226).