STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut women's ice hockey team built a three-goal lead and fended off the eighth-ranked University of New Hampshire for a 3-2 Hockey East victory Sunday afternoon at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum.
UNH, which went 3-1-1 in its stretch of five consecutive road games, is now 19-6-5 overall and 11-2-3 in Hockey East with its first conference loss to a team other than Providence College in the three-year history of the league. UConn is now 12-11-7, 8-5-3.
Despite controlling possession of the puck for the majority of the first period, the Wildcats trailed 1-0 at the first intermission on Jaclyn Hawkins' goal off a rebound in front at 14:46. The goal ended UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon's (Ile Bizard, Quebec) shutout streak at 101:08 and UNH's shutout streak at 166:08.
Bourdon, with five saves, exited the game in favor of Brittany Busa (Concord, Mass.) at the start of the second period.
UConn extended the lead to 2-0 at 10:45 of the middle stanza when, just five seconds after the Huskies' fourth power play of the game expired, Shannon Connolly pushed the puck from the low slot towards the net and it trickled inside the left post. Megan McLeod warded off a UNH defender as she drove through the right circle and fired a shot into the net to give UConn a 3-0 advantage at 15:46.
UNH, which had allowed a total of just four goals in the previous five games, stormed back to trim the deficit to 3-2 before the second intermission. Taylor Palazeti (Calgary, Alberta) scored her fourth goal in as many games when her shot from the top of the left circle sailed into the upper-right corner of the net at 16:29. Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario), who won the faceoff back to Palazeti, was credited with an assist.
The 'Cats closed within 3-2 on a power-play goal at 19:09. Lindsay Hansen (Northport, N.Y.) initiated the sequence with a pass from the right point to Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba) in the corner, and Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) one-timed Hekle's centering pass into the net.
With two minutes remaining in regulation, Hansen's backhanded wraparound shot at the left post trickled across the crease and moments later a Shannon Clement (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) redirection from between the circles went wide left of the cage.
UNH still trailed 3-2 when Busa was pulled in favor of an extra skater with 1:17 remaining. UConn goalie Kaitlyn Shain made two saves the rest of the way, including one on a Hitchcock redirection with 6.7 seconds to play, to preserve the lead.
Busa finished with a career-high 20 saves for UNH. Shain stopped 30 shots.
New Hampshire returns to action at home Feb. 26 vs. Providence College. Game time at the Whittemore Center is 2 p.m.