Shorthanded goals by Kelly Paton and Courtney Birchard helped the No. 4 New Hampshire Wildcats (10-1-4, 5-0-1-0 Hockey East) to a 2-1 win over No. 7/8 Northeastern (10-3-2, 6-2-1-2 Hockey East) on Sunday at Matthews Arena. Junior Kristi Kehoe scored for Northeastern, and sophomore goaltender Florence Schelling stopped 30 shots.
New Hampshire has now won 25 straight games vs. Northeastern dating back to March, 2002.
Goaltending was the story early on as both teams threatened to score in the first period. Paton produced a glorious scoring chance for the Wildcats on a shorthanded breakaway, but her forehand shot on the doorstep was kicked away by Schelling. Only minutes later, UNH keeper Lindsey Minton robbed a Kehoe one-timer from the low slot to preserve the scoreless tie.
Paton finally broke through in the final minute of the first period, again on a shorthanded chance. Off a neutral zone turnover, the Woodstock, Ontario native gobbled up a loose puck and skated toward the Husky net. Paton then made a nifty move to her right and shoveled the puck over the outstretched glove of Schelling for her eleventh goal of the season at 19:27.
The Huskies returned the favor only 58 seconds into the second frame as Kehoe slammed home a rebound off a Kelly Wallace shot. Junior Julia Marty, formerly a New Hampshire Wildcat, dished the puck to Wallace down low, who quickly fired a shot on goal. The rebound popped off Minton's right pad and onto the stick of Kehoe, who made no mistake from point blank range.
The Wildcats nearly countered with the go-ahead goal three minutes later, but freshman Kristine Horn's wrister glanced off the post off a setup from Paton.
The third period unraveled slowly as both teams took a conservative stance to preserve the 1-1 tie. A Northeastern power play early in the frame produced few scoring chances as the stingy UNH penalty kill continued to stifle Northeastern's offense.
On yet another penalty kill late in the game, the Wildcats capitalized on the Huskies' lack of offensive pressure. Again it was Paton who initiated the goal, sweeping in for a close range shot, before gathering her own rebound and finding Birchard at the point. Birchard took two strides toward the net before launching a laser through traffic that beat Schelling glove side at 16:33.
The Huskies mustered several chances at the end of the game, but could not find an equalizer. Freshman Brittany Esposito produced a great chance with a wrister from the right of the faceoff circle, but Minton stood tall with a huge pad stop.
New Hampshire outshot the Huskies in every period, and 32-22 for the game.
Northeastern returns to action on Friday, Dec. 4 at Boston College at 7 p.m.