Hekle leads ‘Cat attack with goal, two assists
ORONO, Maine - Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba) recorded three points with a goal and two assists to lead the eighth-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 5-2 Hockey East victory against the University of Maine at Alfond Arena.
UNH, now 17-1-2 lifetime vs. the Black Bears, extended its winning streak to three games to improve to 18-5-4 overall and 10-1-2 in Hockey East. Maine is now 12-10-3, 3-8-2.
The Wildcats skated to a 3-0 lead in the first period on a pair of goals by Stephanie Jones (Kimberley, B.C.) and one from Hekle. For the fourth time in six games, Jones gave the 'Cats a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 8:27 when she collected Hekle's centering pass at the top of the crease and scored. Hekle, with the assistance of Andi Hanley (Riva, Md.), extended the advantage to 2-0 at 10:19 on a shot from the high slot that caromed off the left post into the net. Jones' second tally of the game, which marked her 10th point in UNH's last 12 goals and team-leading fifth game-winning goal of the season, gave New Hampshire a 3-0 lead with 52 seconds remaining in the first period.
Maine took advantage of an early second-period power play to trim the deficit to 3-1 at 1:08 when Sonia Corriveau scored from a scrum in front. UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec) denied Corriveau on a breakaway less than a minute later, then stopped her a second time at the top of the crease four minutes into the stanza to once again preserve the two-goal lead.
Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario), who set up Jones' second tally, netted a power-play goal from the low slot at 12:30 to re-establish a three-goal cushion, 4-1. Hekle, with a centering pass from the right corner, and Lindsay Hansen (Northport, N.Y.) set up the tally.
Bourdon made another big stop when she denied Brigitte Laflamme on a breakaway with a right leg pad save but Cheryl White, standing near the left post, scored less than 30 seconds later, however, to pull Maine within 4-2 at 13:38.
Taylor Palazeti (Calgary, Alberta) held the puck deep in the right circle and her patience resulted in a goal to produce a 5-2 lead at 6:24 of the third period. Becky Peters (Dover, N.H.) and Hansen recorded assists.
Consecutive Wildcat penalties gave the Black Bears a 5-on-3 power-play advantage for 1:34 but the 'Cats, with the strong play of Bourdon, protected its three-goal advantage.
Bourdon finished with 34 saves while Maine counterpart Rachel Gettings stopped 14 shots.
UNH and Maine conclude the two-game weekend series Feb. 13. Game time at Alfond Arena is 1 p.m. The next Wildcat home game is Feb. 26 (2 p.m.) vs. Providence College.