PROVIDENCE, R.I. - In a battle for first place in the Women's Hockey East standings, the fifth-ranked University of New Hampshire scored three third-period goals but fell to No. 8 Providence College, 7-4, Saturday afternoon at Schneider Arena.
UNH is now 23-6-2 overall and 11-2-1 in the league (23 points). Providence remains in first place with 25 points on a 12-1-1 Hockey East record and the Friars are 20-6-6 overall. Neither team can finish lower than second in the conference standings and both have qualified for the Women's Hockey East Championships, which will be held March 15-16 at Northeastern University's Matthews Arena.
Trailing 5-2 midway through the third period, UNH trimmed the deficit to 5-3 when Lindsay Hansen (Northport, N.Y.) scored a power-play goal at 11:08. Allison Edgar (Brigden, Ont.), whose initial shot from the left point was stopped, and Vicki Davis (Edmonton, Alb.) were credited with assists. Randi MacMaster (Syracuse, N.Y.) pulled the Wildcats within one goal, 4-3, 2:48 later. Carolyn Gordon (Petrolia, Ont.) made a centering pass from behind the net and MacMaster chipped the puck into the net.
PC called time out at that point, then UNH was assessed a bench minor for delay of game at 14:42. It took only 19 seconds for the Friars to capitalize on the power-play opportunity, as Rush Zimmerman scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Kelli Halcisak (goal, four assists).
UNH goaltender Jen Huggon (Plymouth, Mass.) was pulled in favor of an extra skater with just under five minutes remaining and Halcisak scored into the empty net from her own blue line to give the home team a 7-4 lead at 16:12.
Huggon finished with 17 saves while PC goalie Jana Bugden stopped 35 shots.
Providence took an early 1-0 lead when Katelynn Laffin scored on a high shot from the low slot off a rebound 2:30 into the game. The Friars extended their lead to 2-0 with 3:15 remaining in the opening period when the initial shot by Rush Zimmerman was stopped but Danielle Culgin, standing at the top of the crease, tucked the puck into the net.
Meredith Roth gave Providence a 3-0 advantage with a power-play goal at 5:38 of the second period on a screened shot from the high slot.
UNH pulled within 3-1 at 12:54 of the middle stanza - five seconds after a Wildcat power play had expired on a goal by Stephanie Jones (Kimberley, B.C.), her 17th of the season. Kristen Thomas (Wilmington, Mass.) swept the puck to Jones at the top of the right circle, and her high shot deflected high off PC goaltender Jana Bugden's shoulder and landed in the net. MacMaster was also credited with an assist.
Annie Fahlenbock (Toronto, Ont.), on a pass from Nicole Stefanilo (Sanford, Maine) scored on a breakaway 68 seconds into the third period to trim the deficit to 3-2. Momentum immediately switched back to Providence, however, as Emily Gryp responded with a goal 20 seconds later. Darlene Stephenson scored a shorthanded goal at 6:50 to extend the advantage to 5-2.
New Hampshire concludes the regular season with a three-game homestand that begins Feb. 25 (7 p.m.) against Quinnipiac University. The Wildcats play host to Boston College next weekend Feb. 28 (7 p.m.) and March 2 (2 p.m.).