Hitchcock, Wright-Ward score two goals each
ORONO, Maine - Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) and Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) both scored two goals to propel the No. 1-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 5-3 Hockey East victory against the University of Maine at Alfond Arena.
With the victory, UNH extended its unbeaten streak to 13 games (12-0-1) and improved to 17-2-1 overall, 8-1-1 Hockey East. Maine, now 1-20-3 lifetime vs. the Wildcats, is 10-5-5, 2-5-3.
In addition to Hitchcock and Wright-Ward, Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) sparked the offense with a career-high three assists and Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba) finished with a goal and assist. UNH goaltender Brittany Busa (Concord, Mass.), who had not played since a 2-0 shutout of Northeastern University on Nov. 22, finished with 15 saves. Maine goalie Rachel Gettings stopped 21 shots.
The Black Bears netted a 1-0 lead at 19:55 of the first period when Patricia Gagnon picked up a loose puck in Maine's defensive zone and skated through the neutral zone behind the defense for a breakaway down the slot. She maneuvered to the left post and tucked the puck between the post and Busa.
The teams combined to score six goals in the second period as the Wildcats rallied to take a 4-3 lead. Wright-Ward pulled the 'Cats even, 1-1, at 4:11. From the high slot, Garland passed the puck to Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) in the right circle and her centering pass found Wright-Ward in front.
Maine's Julie Poulin scored on a screened shot from the left point to put the home team back in front, 2-1, at 8:34 but the 'Cats netted goals 34 seconds apart to go ahead 3-2.
Hitchcock leveled the score, 2-2, when she was in front of the net to redirect Garland's shot from the left point for a power-play goal at 13:55. Hekle and Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) converted a give-and-go at 14:29 to give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead. Hekle passed the puck to Faber in the right circle and cut to the slot, where she one-timed Faber's return pass into the net.
The combination of Hitchcock and Garland extended New Hampshire's advantage to 4-2 with another power-play goal at 18:33. Garland picked up a loose puck in the defensive zone and made a pass through the neutral zone to Hitchcock, who skated in alone and scored.
Maine trimmed the deficit to 4-3 on Brigitte LaFlamme's power-play goal at 19:46.
Wright-Ward netted UNH's third special-teams goal of the game with a shorthanded tally at 9:18 of the third period to reestablish a two-goal cushion, 5-3. Hekle started the rush by intercepting a pass in the defensive zone and carrying the puck into the offensive zone at the left point. Her tape-to-tape pass across the slot found Wright-Ward, who buried the puck into the net. It marked the Wildcats' seventh shorthanded goal of the season, which leads the nation.
New Hampshire returns to action Jan. 20 (7 p.m.) vs. intrastate rival Dartmouth College at the Whittemore Center. Tickets are available online at www.unhwildcats.com/tickets.