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Senior defenseman Courtney Birchard had a goal and an assist for the Wildcats
TROY, N.Y. - Julie Allen (Brampton, Ontario) and Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) both recorded a goal and assist and Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) tallied 27 saves to lead the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Friday night's 4-3 non-conference victory against Rensselaer at Houston Field House.
UNH, which defeated the Engineers by the same score last November at the Whittemore Center, improved to 2-2-0. Rensselaer is 0-3-2.
The Wildcats took an early 1-0 lead at 4:25 of the first period when Nicole Gifford (Peterborough, Ontario) scored her first career goal by getting the puck past RPI goaltender Sonja van der Bliek (25 saves). Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.) was credited with an assist - her first of the season.
Rensselaer netted goals 55 seconds apart late in the stanza to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Jordan Smelker, with the assistance of Katie Daniels, tied the game at 18:27 and then Kendra Dunlop's unassisted tally put the home team in front.
UNH once again struck early in a stanza with a goal 1:15 into the second period that tied the game, 2-2. Birchard recorded her first point of the season with the goal; Allen set up the tally.
The 'Cats regained the lead, 3-2, on Allen's first goal of the year. Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.) and Birchard, who finished with a game-high seven shots, were credited with assists.
The Engineers leveled the score, 3-3, on a goal by Jill Vandegrift at 15:21. Daniels tallied her second assist of the game on the score.
New Hampshire took its third lead of the game at 7:19 of the third period when Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) scored her second goal of the season. Maggie Hunt (Naperville, Ill.) and Hannah Armstrong (Aurora, Ontario) set up the game-winning tally. It marked the first career point for Hunt.
RPI went on a power play at 12:55 of the final frame, and Herman stopped both shots the home team recorded during the skater advantage to preserve the one-goal lead. She made two more saves before UNH called time out with 2:20 remaining.
van der Bliek was pulled in favor of an extra skater with 55 seconds on the clock, then UNH was whistled for a minor penalty 21 seconds later to give the Engineers a two-skater advantage.
Herman turned aside one shot by Sierra Vadner and two by Alisa Harrison the rest of the way to secure the victory.
Rensselaer recorded an 11-6 shot advantage in the first period, but the visiting Wildcats had the edge in each of the ensuing stanzas (11-10 and 12-9, respectively). UNH went 0-for-1 on the power play and 3 of 3 on the penalty kill to remain perfect on the season (21 of 21).
New Hampshire returns to action Oct. 16 (4 p.m.) at Union College. The Wildcats' return to action Oct. 22 (7 p.m.) for their home opener against Clarkson University. Tickets are available at the Whittemore Center Box Office, by going online to www.unhwildcats.com.