DURHAM, N.H. - Brian McCloskey, the second-year head coach of the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team, announced Wednesday that six student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent and will join the UNH Wildcat women's ice hockey program for the 2004-05 season.
UNH adds a quartet of forwards with the signing of Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario), Jennifer Hitchcock (Windsor, Ontario), Taylor Palazeti (Calgary, Alberta) and Jessica Zerafa (Mississauga, Ontario). A pair of defensemen - Nicole Goguen (Truro, Nova Scotia) and Andreya Hanley (Riva, Md.) - also comprise the incoming Class of 2008.
"This is an outstanding group of athletes that will definitely impact our program next year," said McCloskey, who was named 2003 Coach of the Year by Hockey East.
Craig, a 5-foot-7 forward on the Bluewater Jr. Hawks, recorded 107 points with 31 goals and 76 assists while skating in 68 games for the London Jr. Stangs last season. She finished with 88 points (36-52-88) in 58 games during the 2001-02 season. Craig was a member of Team Ontario at the most recent Canada Games.
"Craig is an explosive forward with great speed and excellent on-ice vision," McCloskey stated.
Goguen is a 5-5 defenseman at the North American Hockey Academy, where she has 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) and a plus-minus rating of +19. Last year at New Hampton School, Goguen finished with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points. She was a member of Team Nova Scotia at the Canada Games.
"Goguen is an extremely talented puck handling defenseman who will definitely excel on our Olympic-size ice surface," McCloskey said.
Hanley is a 5-9 defenseman and teammate of Goguen at the North American Hockey Academy, where she has accumulated 11 points (7-4-11) and a +12 rating in 20 games. Last season at Glomour Academy, Hanley registered 13 points with eight goals and five assists.
"Hanley will add a lot to our defensive corps by bringing size, speed and an aggressive style of play," McCloskey stated.
Hitchcock, a 5-7 forward on the Windsor Wildcats, recorded 62 goals and 24 assists for 86 points, as well as a +57 rating, in 73 games last year with Windsor. She was a All-Star Team selection at Hockey Night in Boston in both 2002 and 2001. Hitchcock's accomplishments outside of hockey include Player of the Game honors twice at the Canadian National Baseball Tournament and silver medals with the 2002 WECSSAA Jr. Girls volleyball and track teams.
"Hitchcock is someone who has scored at every level," McCloskey said. "She is a finisher who is a threat with and without the puck."
Palazeti, who skated for Team Alberta at the Canada Games, is a 5-5 forward on the Calgary PSA Roughriders. She skated for the NASA Hustlers last season and compiled 33 points (16-17-33) while on the 2001-02 team.
"Palazeti is a highly-skilled centerman who possesses tenacious work habits with outstanding puck skills," McCloskey said.
Zerafa, a 5-6 forward, is a member of the Mississauga Jr. Chiefs Intermediate AA team. She scored 44 goals and had 32 assists for 76 points with the 2001-02 Mississauga Chiefs Midget AA team. Zerafa was named the 2002 Jr. Athlete of the Year and also led her team to a gold-medal finish at the 2002 Canadian National Softball Championships.
"Zerafa has an outstanding stick and the ability to make plays for herself and her linemates," McCloskey stated.
These six recruits join the winningest women's collegiate ice hockey team in the United States. New Hampshire, now in its 27th season as a varsity sport, has amassed a 514-140-40 record.