NEW HAMPSHIRE SHUTS OUT NIAGARA, 2-0
Junior goaltender Lindsey Minton made 24 saves to post fifth career shutout for UNH
DURHAM, N.H. - University of New Hampshire junior goaltender Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas) stopped all 24 shots she faced to backbone the Wildcats to Saturday afternoon's 2-0 non-conference victory against Niagara University at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, still perfect (4-0-0) at home this season, improved to 7-2-0 overall with its sixth consecutive win; the Wildcats also extended their home regular-season non-conference unbeaten streak to 20 games (18-0-2). The Purple Eagles, winless in the last 18 meetings vs. UNH (0-17-1), are now 1-6-1 on the season.
Minton, who also shut out Niagara on Friday night with a season-high 25-save effort, made 10 of her 24 saves in the second period. She held the Purple Eagles scoreless on four power-play opportunities (six shots faced). Minton has two shutouts this season and five in her career.
Following a scoreless first period in which NU recorded a 6-5 shot advantage, the Purple Eagles controlled the opening faceoff of the second stanza and Jessica Hitchcock wristed a shot from the slot that sailed wide of the left post. The rush generated a power-play opportunity for the visitors, however, and one minute later Jenna Hendrikx' shot from the left circle was snared by Minton's glove.
Moments after killing off that shorthanded situation, the Wildcats created a dangerous chance in which the initial shot from the slot by Brittany Skudder (Plainview, N.Y.) was stopped by NU goalie Jenni Bauer (14 saves) and the Arielle O'Neill (St. Catharines, Ontario) shot off the rebound went wide right.
New Hampshire took a 1-0 lead at 9:30 on a shot from the left point by Kailey Chappell (Pickering, Ontario) that bounced its way through traffic, past Bauer and into the cage. Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario), with the pass across the blue line from the right point, and Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.), who won the puck in the right corner, set up the tally.
Niagara nearly tied the game in the 15th minute, but Minton stopped the charging Kathleen Bortuzzo down the slot and the play was whistled dead before the puck escaped from under Minton and was pushed across the goal line.
The Wildcats extended the lead to 2-0 at 7:03 of the third period. From center ice, Hannah Armstrong (Aurora, Ontario) advanced the puck to Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) on the left wing. Lavoie entered the offensive zone and made a centering pass to O'Neill, whose shot from the slot was stopped by Bauer. Lavoie, who had continued towards the goal, deposited the rebound into the open left side of the net for her fourth goal of the year.
Less than two minutes later, Bortuzzo's one-timer from the low slot ricocheted off Minton and continued towards the goal line, but the UNH goalie turned and covered the loose puck to keep the Purple Eagles scoreless.
Niagara went on a power play at 16:04 and gained a two-skater advantage at 17:26 when a second Wildcat skater went to the penalty box. NU could not sustain pressure in the offensive zone, however, and Minton turned aside all four shots during that stretch of overlapping power plays.
Both teams had one notable scoring chance in the opening stanza. With seven minutes on the clock, NU's Kristen Richards was denied on a wraparound at the left post and Minton also stoned Caitlin Jenkins off the rebound. Less than two minutes later, Molly Morrison (South Burlington, Vt.) snapped a low wrister from the slot towards the left post and Bauer used full extension of her right leg pad to block aside the puck.
The 16 shots marked a season low for UNH, which did not have a power-play opportunity in the game.
The last Wildcat goalie to record back-to-back shutouts was current senior Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) in the 2008 Hockey East semifinal and final against Boston University and Providence College, respectively. UNH had consecutive shutouts last October against Quinnipiac University and Colgate University.
New Hampshire concludes its five-game homestand Nov. 6 (5 p.m.) against the University of Vermont. Tickets are available at the Whittemore Center Box Office, by calling 1-800-745-300 or going online to www.unhwildcats.com.