BOSTON - Redshirt senior Brittany Esposito (Edmonton, Alberta) scored two goals and added an assist to help the Northeastern women's hockey team (17-13-2, 12-6-2 WHEA) to a 5-4 victory over New Hampshire on senior day, Saturday at Matthews Arena.
Senior captain Maggie Brennolt (Hawthorn Woods, Ill.) celebrated senior day with her first career game-winning goal that broke a 4-4 tie with 3:59 remaining in the third. Redshirt senior Kelly Wallace (Libertyville, Ill.) and freshman Heather Mottau (Milton, Mass.) also scored as the Huskies won their ninth straight Hockey East game.
The Huskies twice rallied from one-goal deficits in a see-saw game that featured five lead changes and four ties. Northeastern registered a season-high 44 shots on goal and scored on the power play for the third straight game.
Junior Chloe Desjardins (Saint-Prosper, Quebec) stopped 24 shots to earn her 17th win of the season, while UNH's Vilma Vaattovaara (11 saves) took the loss in relief to fall to 6-8-2. Ashley Wilkes played the first two periods in goal for the Wildcats (9-21-2, 4-14-2 WHEA) and made 28 saves on 31 shots.
New Hampshire struck first at the 7:59 mark of the first period when Jenna Lascelle fired a point shot through traffic that appeared to deflect off a Northeastern defender and by a screened Desjardins to make it 1-0 Wildcats.
The Huskies responded just 16 seconds later to tie the game at one-apiece. Senior Sonia St. Martin (Pierrefonds, Quebec) zipped a pass to Esposito, who charged through the neutral zone and danced into the UNH zone with speed. Esposito then cut to the right circle and unleashed a wrister that beat Wilkes over the blocker and into the top left corner at the 8:15 mark.
The visitors regained the advantage 2:02 into the second period when Arielle O'Neill threw a cross-ice feed into the slot that was tipped home by Kayla Mork to give UNH a 2-1 lead.
Again Northeastern responded, this time on a power-play goal by Wallace. After some good puck movement in the UNH zone, Esposito found Wallace open at the left of the net for a wrister that beat Wilkes through the five-hole from a tough angle to even the score at 2-2 with 12:38 to play in the second stanza.
The Huskies then took their first lead of the game when senior Claire Santostefano (Wilmette, Ill.) picked off a bad pass in the UNH zone and slipped a feed to Esposito for a snipe from the low slot that beat Wilkes under the crossbar at the 12:26 mark.
The back-and-forth play continued as the Wildcats evened the score at 3-3 with a power-play tally of their own. On a quick rush up the ice, Alexis Crossley spotted Nicole Gifford streaking into the NU zone on the left wing. Gifford collected the pass and tossed a feed to the goal-mouth for Jessica Hitchcock to tip home with 3:21 remaining in the second.
In a 3-3 game entering the third period, UNH elected to switch goaltenders and bring on Vaattovaara for Wilkes. The move did not pay dividends as Northeastern grabbed the lead back 8:36 into the frame on a brilliant individual play by Mottau. After taking a pass from sophomore Tori Hickel (Anchorage, Alaska) behind the NU net, Mottau went coast-to-coast, beating several UNH defenders up the ice, before wristing a shot past Vaattovaara from the right faceoff dot to make it 4-3 Huskies.
Northeastern nearly extended the lead to 5-3 with just under seven minutes to play when Esposito rang a shot off the crossbar in a bid for the hat trick. Minutes later, the puck was in the net at the other end as UNH tied the game at 4-4 on another power-play goal by Hitchcock at 15:31.
But Northeastern had one final response, striking just 30 seconds later to go ahead for good. After a failed clearance, Brennolt held the puck in the UNH zone at the left point and tossed a low shot toward the cage that deflected off a Wildcat defender and into the net with 3:59 showing on the third period clock.
The goal stood up as the game-winner as Northeastern was able to kill the clock for its third straight win over New Hampshire.
The Huskies will wrap up the regular season on Sunday when they travel to UNH for a 2 p.m. contest at the Whittemore Center. Northeastern, which will host a Quarterfinal game on Feb. 28, can still finish third or fourth in the Hockey East standings.
- Northeastern's senior class accounted for four goals and three assists Saturday.
- Esposito recorded her third three-point game of the season.
- Brennolt scored her first career game-winning goal.
- Wallace led all skaters with 12 shots on goal, a new single-game high for NU this year.
- Wallace has at least one point in 11 of her last 12 games.
- Scamurra has at least one point in seven of her last eight games.
- Nine different skaters had at least a point for NU in the game.
- The Huskies scored five goals for the second straight game.
- Northeastern has now won the season series against UNH, UConn, Maine, Vermont and Providence.
- Prior to the game, NU honored its seven seniors: Brennolt, Esposito, St. Martin, Santostefano, Wallace, Katie MacSorley and Kelsey O'Sullivan