Hitchcock, Faber record three points apiece
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - In a battle for first place in the Hockey East standings, Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) and Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) both recorded three points to lead the second-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 6-1 victory against Boston College at Conte Forum.
UNH won its seventh consecutive game to extend its unbeaten streak to 19 games (18-0-1), improve to 23-2-1 overall and pull into a first-place tie with BC in Hockey East at 25 points (12-1-1 record). BC, the last team to defeat the Wildcats (3-2 in overtime at Conte Forum on Nov. 5), is now 13-9-4, 12-3-1.
Including Hitchcock (2g, 1a) and Faber (1g, 2a), 11 UNH skaters recorded at least one point and Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) was the other player to record multiple points with two assists. Wildcat goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec), the Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for January, made seven of her 14 saves in the third period and had her shutout bid end with 3:21 remaining in regulation. BC goalie Alison Quandt was credited with 32 saves.
UNH gained momentum on consecutive power plays just before the midway point of the first period and broke through to take a 2-0 lead with goals 3:26 apart late in the stanza. Hitchcock, who was named Hockey East Player of the Month (January) earlier this week, gave the 'Cats a 1-0 lead at 14:06. Faber intercepted a pass near the left post and passed the puck across the crease to Hitchcock, who swept the puck into the open right side.
The Wildcats extended the advantage to 2-0 at 17:32 when Lindsey Caleo (Clinton Township, Mich.) won the puck in the right corner, maneuvered to the right point and curled to the high slot, where her shot deflected off Jackie Wedster (Chicago, Ill.) -- who was battling for position between the hashmarks of the playoff circles -- and into the upper-right corner of the net.
Faber gave UNH a 3-0 lead at 16:44 of the second period as she collected a pass in the low slot from Hitchcock, eluded a defender, pulled the puck away from BC's Quandt and patiently settled the puck before lifting a shot into the open right side. Wright-Ward was also credited with an assist.
The Wildcats continued to control play in the final frame and extended the lead to 5-0 on tallies by Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) at 6:06 and Shannon Clement (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) at 8:18. Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) set up the fourth goal by entering the zone at the left point and centering the puck to Craig, whose shot from the slot eluded Quandt. Amy McLaughlin (Berlin, Mass.), with the puck across the blue line to Bellamy, also set up the tally. Clement netted a power-play tally 2:12 later when her shot from the low slot caromed off the left post and went across the goal line. Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba), with the pass to Clement, and Lindsay Hansen (Northport, N.Y.) were credited with assists.
BC called time out at that point, but UNH continued to pressure and Hitchcock's second strike of the game pushed the Wildcats' advantage to six goals, 6-0, at 11:47. Standing in the slot, Hitchcock one-timed Faber's centering pass past Quandt.
Cristin Stuart prevented the shutout at 16:31.
Both Hitchcock and Wright-Ward extended their point-scoring streak to 14 games and Faber now has a point in 13 of the last 15 games, including each of the last seven.
New Hampshire returns to action Feb. 11 (2 p.m.) at Northeastern University. The next Wildcats' home game is Feb. 12 (2 p.m.) vs. Providence College. Tickets for that game are available online at www.unhwildcats.com/tickets.