DURHAM, N.H. - With the score tied 1-1, Laura Veharanta and Kate Bacon scored goals in the last 90 seconds of the game to lift the Providence College women's ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 3-1 victory against the Univeristy of New Hampshire in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH lost its fourth consecutive game to slip to 10-18-3 overall and 4-12-2 in Hockey East. The Wildcats remain in sixth place, one point ahead of UConn and two points in front of Vermont, both of whom also lost Saturday afternoon. PC improved to 13-15-3, 10-7-1 and move ahead of Maine into fourth place in the standings.
UNH goaltender Jenn Gilligan (Maple Ridge, British Columbia), in her first appearance since Dec. 11 and first start since Dec. 3, made 21 saves. PC counterpart Genevieve Lacasse stopped 22 shots, including 10 in the second period.
The Friars generated a breakaway opportunity in the third minute of the game when Ashley Cottrell broke in alone down the slot. Cottrell attempted to deke Gilligan and stuff a shot between the leg pads, but the goalie stood her ground at the top of the crease to make the save.
Providence took a 1-0 lead when Rebecca Morse (goal, assist) scored a power-play goal at 4:43. From the high slot, Abby Gauthier slipped a pass down the slot to Morse, who settled the puck and lifted a shot under the crossbar. Jessica Vella was also credited with an assist.
Two minutes later, PC had another breakaway chance when Vella advanced through the slot, but Gilligan gloved her wrister from between the hashmarks.
The visitors took that 1-0 lead and a 9-4 lead into the first intermission.
Vella had a shorthanded breakaway opportunity at 7:15 of the second stanza. She skated down the left wing and cut to the low slot, but Gilligan extended her left arm to make a glove save.
UNH gained a 5-on-3 power play advantage for 40 seconds at 10:24, but Lacasse turned aside the only shot she faced in that span - a Caroline Broderick (Marblehead, Mass.) wrister from the slot.
With 3:15 remaining in the second period, Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) tested Lacasse with a redirection in front, but the PC netminder turned aside that bid as well as the one off the stick of Jenna Lascelle (Cornwall, Ontario) off the rebound at the left doorstep.
With 75 seconds to play in the middle frame, Bryanna Farris (Carleton Place, Ontario) led a 2-on-1 rush with Broderick down the left side and she fired a slap shot from the top of the circle that Lacasse enveloped.
Gilligan stood tall in the closing minute when she denied both Gauthier and Bacon from a scrum in front of the net.
At 2:20 of the third period, Morse snapped a shot from the slot that caromed off the right post. Less than one minute later, Cottrell blasted a shot from the right faceoff dot that ricocheted off the near post.
In the sixth minute, Lavoie skated down the left wing and advanced past a pair of PC skaters to the low slot, but Lacasse poke-checked the puck away to deny a scoring opportunity. Moments later, Lacasse stoned Lascelle at the right post.
UNH went on its sixth power play of the game at 6:37 and capitalized on that skater advantage to level the score, 1-1, at 8:16. Arielle O'Neill (St. Catharines, Ontario) initiated the scoring sequence along the left boards by chipping the puck to Lavoie in the corner. Lavoie sent a return pass to the cutting O'Neill, who chipped a high shot into the cage.
One minute later, Bacon maneuvered from the left circle past two 'Cats to advance to the low slot, but Gilligan mirrored the attacker's movement across the slot to make the save.
With five minutes remaining in regulation, Broderick gained possession behind the Friars' defense at the right point. Lacasse charged from the goal line and tripped Broderick as she attempted to swerve around the goalie to the left. As she slid prone on the ice, Broderick swept a shot towards the open net, but the puck went wide of the left post.
That play gave UNH a power play, but the 'Cats were held without a shot next two minutes.
PC called time out at 17:59 and broke the tie 32 seconds later when Veharanta converted Morse's pass into a goal at 18:31. Bacon, with the assistance of Maggie Pendleton and Corinne Buie, extended the advantage to 3-1 at 19:18.
UNH pulled Gilligan in favor of an extra skater with 18 seconds remaining but did not record a shot the rest of the way.
New Hampshire and PC conclude the two-game series Feb. 12 (2 p.m.) at the Whittemore Center. UNH's Class of 2012 will be honored prior to the start of the game.