STORRS, Conn. - Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba) recorded six points with one goal and five assists to lead the ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Sunday afternoon's 7-2 Hockey East victory against the University of Connecticut at UConn Ice Arena.
UNH extended its unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1) and improved to 17-8-4 overall, 12-1-2 in Hockey East. The Wildcats sit atop the league standings with 26 points and control their destiny in pursuit of the regular-season title. UConn lost its fourth consecutive game to fall to 8-17-5, 4-9-3.
Hekle, whose five assists and six points are personal bests as well as Hockey East records, combined with linemates Stephanie Jones (Kimberley, B.C.) and Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) to produce four goals and seven assists. Wright-Ward netted two goals, including the game-winning tally, and set up another while Jones finished with a goal and assist.
UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec) recorded 17 saves. Connecticut starting goalie Shannon Murphy made 13 saves and exited with her team trailing 4-0 at 1:15 of the second period. Katilyn Shain went the rest of the way and turned aside 18 of 21 shots.
Jones gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at 4:31 of the first period when she upper-shelved a shot from the right doorstep. The goal, which was set up by Wright-Ward and Hekle, was the 50th in 100 career games for Jones.
Wright-Ward struck at 11:40 and 16:09 to extend UNH's advantage to 3-0. The initial shot by Hekle was stopped by UConn's Murphy, but Wright-Ward was standing at the top of the crease and lifted the puck under the crossbar. Allison Edgar (Brigden, Ont.) was also credited with an assist on the power-play goal. Wright-Ward's second goal was again a high shot from close range. Hekle, whose backhand pass to the low slot found Wright-Ward, and Jones set up that tally.
Carolyn Gordon (Petrolia, Ont.; goal, two assists) became the 26th Wildcat to score 50 career goals with 44 seconds elapsed from the second period. The initial shot from the left point by Kristen Thomas (Wilmington, Mass.) was stopped but Lindsay Hansen (Northport, N.Y.; two assists) touched the puck back to Gordon, who scored on a low shot.
Hekle put the Wildcats ahead 5-0 with a power-play goal at 3:20 when a touch pass by Gordon across the crease allowed Hekle to shoot into an open net. Hansen was also credited with an assist.
UConn's Katherine Van Deveire scored a power-play goal on a screened shot from between the faceoff circles at 7:05 to trim the Huskies' deficit to 5-1.
The Wildcats scored their third power-play goal of the game with 2:41 remaining in the middle stanza when Rebecca Paul (Sudbury, Ont.) scored off a rebound from the low slot. Hekle, whose initial shot was saved, and Gordon set up the tally that gave UNH a 6-1 cushion.
Allison Edgar's (Brigden, Ont.), with the assistance of Hekle, scored on a slap shot to give the 'Cats a 7-1 lead at 9:53 of the final frame, then UConn's Natalie Vibert scored with 7.2 seconds remaining to cap the scoring.
New Hampshire returns to action Feb. 28 (2 p.m.) at Providence College. The next Wildcat home game is Feb. 29 vs. PC. Game time at the Whittemore Center is 2 p.m.