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DURHAM, N.H. - Alyse Ruff and Jean O'Neill recorded three points apiece to lead the ninth-ranked Providence College women's ice hockey team to a 3-2 victory against third-ranked University of New Hampshire in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, which lost its second straight home game (both to PC), is now 13-3-4 overall and 7-2-1-0 in Hockey East. Providence extended its unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2) to improve to 9-7-8, 5-3-4-2.
O'Neill tallied two goals - including an empty-net goal with 52 seconds remaining that proved to be the game-winning goal - and an assist whereas Ruff finished with three assists. PC goaltender Genevieve Lacasse recorded 25 saves, including 10 in the third period.
UNH goalie Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) made nine of her 16 saves in the first period. Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) and Julie Allen (Brampton, Ontario) were the Wildcats' goal scorers. Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) extended her point-scoring streak to 13 games with an assist.
Trailing 2-1 with 1:16 remaining in the game, UNH called time out and pulled Herman in favor of an extra skater. The 'Cats briefly kept pressure in the offensive zone, but Jennifer Friedman cleared the puck to the neutral zone. Ruff gained control along the right dashers and shoveled the puck ahead to O'Neill, who was alone behind the defense. O'Neill skated down the slot and dumped the puck into the open net from point blank range to give the Friars a 3-1 lead at 19:08.
Just as it appeared the outcome had been decided, Allen beat Lacasse just 12 seconds later on a shot from deep in the right circle to lift UNH within 3-2 with 40 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats won the ensuing faceoff and entered the offensive zone with an extra attacker. PC's defense forced the home team to perimeter passing and did not allow another shot on goal before clearing the zone with five seconds to play. The Friars were whistled for icing, and with less than a second remaining Long's backhanded shot directly from the right faceoff dot sailed wide left of the cage as time expired.
UNH controlled play in the opening minutes of the game, but Providence settled in defensively and took a 1-0 lead at 10:23 when Ruff, driving to the net in the right faceoff circle, fed a centering pass to an unmarked Jessica Cohen in the slot and she lifted the puck into the open left side of the net. O'Neill was also credited with an assist.
PC took that one-goal advantage and a 10-6 shot advantage into the first intermission.
UNH struck at 2:13 of the second stanza to tie the score, 1-1. Long's outlet pass from the defensive zone sprung Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) along the left dashers. Paton carried the puck into the offensive zone and, after drawing two defenders, floated a pass to Lavoie, who was cutting alone down the slot. Lavoie shifted the puck between her forehand and backhand before finally tucking a shot past Lacasse at the top of the crease.
Providence went on its second power play of the night at 6:01 and capitalized on the skater advantage to take a 2-1 lead at 7:33. Ruff fended off a defender as she carried the puck into the offensive zone on the right wing and flipped a pass to the slot, where an unmarked O'Neill corralled the puck and lifted a shot into the open left side of the net.
UNH recorded a 10-5 shot advantage in the second stanza and then tallied an 11-4 edge in the third period to finish with a 27-19 edge in shots.
PC has won each of the last two games vs. UNH, and the Friars had not won consecutive games in this series since the 2004 and 2005 seasons; it also marked the first time Providence defeated UNH twice in a single season since 2005 and the first time PC won two consecutive games vs. the 'Cats since 1988.
This game was the first this season in which UNH held an opponent to less than 20 shots (19) but did not win; the 'Cats had won each of the previous seven games in which the opposition did not record at least 20 shots.
UNH, which had not lost a Hockey East home game since the inception of the league before Providence prevailed 4-1 at the Whittemore Center on Dec. 5, has now lost back-to-back home league games. This is also the first time UNH lost consecutive regular-season games to any league opponent in Hockey East history.
New Hampshire and Providence conclude the home-and-home series - as well as the season series - Jan. 17 (2 p.m.) at PC's Schneider Arena. The Wildcats' next home game is Jan. 20 vs. Northeastern; game time at the Whittemore Center is 7 p.m.