Sophomore goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara posts career-high 41 saves for Wildcats

Sophomore goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara made 41 saves for the Wildcats

CANTON, N.Y. -- Vilma Vaattovaara (Veikkola, Finland) recorded a career-high 41 saves to backbone the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 2-1 victory against St. Lawrence University at Appleton Arena.

Both UNH and SLU are 1-1-0 following the split of the weekend series.

Vaattovaara recorded double-digit saves all three periods, including a personal-best, single-period 16 in the opening stanza; she stopped 12 shots in the middle frame and 13 in the third.

SLU goalie Giulia Mazzocchi was credited with 19 saves. She was on the bench in favor of an extra attacker for the final 5:48 of the game.

Following two scoreless periods of play, UNH quickly built a 2-0 lead with goals 79 seconds apart early in the final frame. Caroline Broderick (Marblehead, Mass.) struck first with an unassisted goal at 1:20, then Sara Carlson (Hutchinson, Minn.), with the assistance of Cassandra Vilgrain (Calgary, Alberta) and Heather Kashman (Edmonton, Alberta), scored at 2:39. It marked the first career point for the rookie Vilgrain.

SLU was whistled for tripping at 8:31, but UNH's power play was short lived as a Wildact was sent to the penalty box for tripping nine seconds later. The Saints sustained pressure during the extended 4-on-4, but Vaattovaara stopped four shots and two other SLU shots were fired wide of the cage.

St. Lawrence went on a power play at 11:07, but the Wildcats' penalty kill did not allow a shot on goal.

UNH went back on the penalty kill just 32 seconds later, however, and SLU pulled Mazzicchi in favor of an extra skater at 14:12 to gain a two-skater advantage. Vaattovaara recorded one save before teammate Megan Armstrong (Edina, Minn.) returned from the penalty box at 15:39.

Mazzicchi remained on the bench, and Vaattovaara denied Brooke Webster to preserve the 2-0 advantage. Vaattovaara then controlled Kailee Heidersbach's shot at 16:42.

The Wildcats were whistled for tripping at 17:05 and the Saints once again skated with a two-player advantage. Vaattovaara recorded saves against Mel Desrochers and Rylee Smith - twice - in the next minute to keep the home team scoreless.

Kayla Raniwsky netted an extra attacker, power-play goal at 18:37 to trim the deficit to 2-1. Kirsten Padalis was credited with an assist.

Mazzicchi once again stayed on the bench in favor of an extra skater and Vaattovaara turned aside Bailey Habsheid in the closing minute to preserve the victory.

SLU recorded a 16-4 shot advantage in the first period but UNH responded with the 15-12 edge in the second period. The Saints were 1-for-9 on the power play while the 'Cats were scoreless on three extra skater opportunities.

Vaattovaara recorded her previous career high of 35 saves in her collegiate debut last October at Syracuse University.

New Hampshire returns to action Oct. 4 (7 p.m.) for its home opener against RIT. The Wildcats also play host to Syracuse on Oct. 5 (2 p.m.).