CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) matched her career high of two assists but the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team was defeated 5-2 by Harvard University in Friday night's non-league action at Bright Hockey Center.
UNH, which had a 6-1-3 record vs. Harvard the past 10 meetings, is now 6-11-3 overall. Harvard, which also defeated Hockey East school Providence College on Thursday, improved to 8-4-0.
UNH starting goaltender Moe Bradley (Swampscott, Mass.) stopped 17 of 21 shots before exiting the game at 8:53 of the second period with the Wildcats trailing by four goals. Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas) played the final 31:07 of the game, made nine saves and allowed one goal.
Harvard was led offensively by Lyndsey Fry (goal, two assists), Samantha Reber (two goals), Jillian Dempsey (goal, assist) and Josephine Pucci (two assists). Laura Bellamy was credited with 17 saves, including nine in the second period.
Harvard skated to a 2-0 first-period lead on the strength of a 14-4 shot advantage. The Crimson's potent power play - Harvard entered the game at 13-for-51 (25.5%) - received its first opportunity of the game at 2:24.
Bradley made three saves to backbone the penalty kill, but the home team struck two seconds after the power play ended to take a 1-0 lead. Pucci's initial shot from the slot was knocked down in front by Fry and the puck ricocheted to the right post, where Dempsey lifted the puck into the open near side of the net.
In the 15th minute, Fry slipped behind the UNH defense for a breakaway opportunity down the slot, but her lifted close-range shot was gloved by Bradley. Two minutes later, Margaret Chute snapped a wrister from the right circle, but Bradley turned aside that dangerous bid.
The Crimson took a 2-0 lead at 18:53 when Kalle Armstrong's pass in front of the Harvard bench at center ice sprung Kaitlin Spurling behind the defense and her shot from the inner-left circle sailed high into the far corner.
Harvard increased its lead to 4-0 with even-strength goals at 5:52 and 8:53 of the second period. Reber, positioned at the top of the crease, redirected Sarah Edney's shot from the high slot past Bradley to give HU a three-goal lead. Fry increased the advantage to 4-0 when she turned and fired a shot from the right circle under the crossbar.
UNH gained momentum in the latter stages of the second period and produced a goal at 17:12 to trim the deficit to 4-1. Lavoie won the battle for the puck behind the Harvard net and slipped a pass to Emma Clark (East Barre, Vt.) at the left post. Clark's shot was stopped by Bellamy, but Gifford corralled the rebound in the slot and lifted a shot into the cage for her team-leading eighth goal of the season.
The 'Cats continued to pressure and a low, hard wrister off the stick of Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.) tested Bellamy with 1:40 remaining in the second period. One minute later, Kayla Mork (Victoria, Minn.), positioned off the left post, redirected a shot that Bellamy scrambled to turn aside to the boards.
Harvard reestablished a four-goal lead, 5-1, at 7:46 of the third period when a UNH turnover in the defensive zone set up a 2-on-1 in which Fry sent a pass across the top of the crease that was one-timed into the open near left side of the net by Reber.
In the 11th minute, another UNH turnover in its defensive zone forced Minton to make a pair of quality saves, first against Reber in the slot and against Fry off that rebound. Moments later, Minton made an acrobatic glove save to snare Edney's slap shot from the left faceoff dot.
The Crimson was whistled for consecutive penalties at 14:48, 16:47 and 17:22. The Wildcats called time out at 17:22 to set up its 5-on-3 power play opportunity and it paid immediate dividends in the form of a goal by Maggie Hunt (Naperville, Ill.) at 17:32. Lavoie moved the puck from the right circle to Horn at the point, and her pass across the high slot was one-timed into the net by Hunt for her fourth goal of the season, all on the power play.
UNH was sent to the penalty box at 18:50 to negate the latter part of its third power-play chance. The Wildcats finished 1-for-3 on the power play - all in the third period - while HU did not score on four power plays.
New Hampshire returns to action - and concludes the December portion of its schedule - Dec. 11 at home against intrastate rival Dartmouth College. Game time at the Whittemore Center is 2 p.m.