BOSTON -- Led by two goals and an assist from Pure Hockey Most Valuable Player and league Rookie of the Year Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.), the No. 1-ranked and top-seeded University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to its first Hockey East Championship title with Sunday afternoon's 6-0 victory against No. 9 and second-seeded Boston College at Northeastern University's Matthews Arena.
"Our team was certainly on a mission, we seemed to get stronger as the game went on and one of the turning points was special teams. That has been the story for us this year, our kids responded and took advantage of the situation. that kind of dictated the game right there" said UNH head coach Brian McCloskey.
UNH, which finished as the tourney runner-up in both 2003 and 2004, won its 16th consecutive game and extended its unbeaten streak to 28 games (27-0-1) to improve to 32-2-1 - a school single-season win record - by recording a program-record sixth consecutive shutout.
Boston College, in its first appearance in the Hockey East championship game, is now 20-11-4 on the season and the 20 victories marks a single-season best for the Eagles. Both BC and UNH, which earned the Hockey East automatic bid as the tourney champion, now await the NCAA Selection Show, which will be broadcast March 12 (8:45 p.m.) on CSTV.
UNH junior goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec), a three-time Hockey East Goaltending Champion, recorded her fourth consecutive shutout - another school record - to extend her overall shutout streak to 282:10 and the team's to 402:19 with a 17-save performance.
"We had the team to do it and we were very confident, we want to move forward with the program," Bourdon said of advancing into the NCAA Tournament.
Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) also finished with two goals and an assist while both Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H; 1g, 2a) and Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.; 3a) finished with three points apiece. Martine Garland also had a multiple-point game with two assists. Those four Wildcats, as well as Faber and Bourdon, were voted to the RBK/CCM All-Tournament Team. UNH's other goal was scored by Shannon Clement (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario).
BC goalie Alison Quandt stopped 30 shots, including 15 in the third period.
"We are looking to what we have coming up, we know what we have to do, to get better in the next couple of games," said Hockey East MVP Sam Faber. "It could have gone to anyone on our team, our team has so much depth, it's amazing. Every line produces for us,"
UNH built a 3-0 first-period advantage on the strength of two power-play goals. Faber gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead with a power-play tally at 5:12 when Bellamy's pass from the right circle found her alone at the left post and she tapped the puck into the open left side. Garland set up the tally with a pass from the high slot to Bellamy in the circle.
The 'Cats immediately went back on the power play and Wright-Ward's shot from the left circle found the open near side of the net at 6:42. The lead-up to the goal was identical, as the puck moved from Garland at the high slot to Bellamy in the right circle across the slot to Wright-Ward.
BC came close to ending UNH's shutout streak 9:10 into the game, but Becky Zavisza (Suffield, Conn.) and Jill McInnis (Quincy, Mass) were denied in a scrum in front of the net.
Hitchcock extended New Hampshire's lead to 3-0 at 10:48 when her shot from the inside of the left circle sailed inside the left post. Wright-Ward, with the pass out to Hitchcock, and Faber, who won possession behind the net, set up the goal.
The Eagles had a couple of early scoring opportunities in the second period. Deborah Spillane (Franklin, Mass.) slipped a pass through the UNH defense ahead to Meghan Fardelmann (Lansing, Kan.), but she was denied in the low slot by Bourdon. Minutes later, the Wildcat goalie also made a pair of leg-pad saves against Maggie Taverna (Howell, N.J.) and Spillane off the rebound with BC on the power play.
A strong individual effort by Shannon Clement (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) gave the 'Cats a 4-0 lead at 9:10 of the middle stanza. Jackie Wedster (Chicago, Ill.) pushed the puck into the neutral zone, where Clement gained possession and raced past two defenders to break in on Quandt and push the puck into the net. Lindsey Caleo (Clinton Township, Mich.) was also credited with an assist.
Hitchcock's second strike of the game, this time on a backhander from the slot that slid between Quandt's legs, extended the advantage to 5-0 at 12:08. Amy McLaughlin (Berlin, Mass.) initiated the sequence from the right point and made a cross-ice pass to Bellamy at the other point, and she then centered the puck down low to Hitchcock.
BC, which had a 5x3 power-play advantage for 36 seconds in the opening stanza, closed the final 1:11 of the second period with a two-skater advantage, but Bourdon stopped Taverna's shot from the high slot and Sarah Feldman (Fall River, Mass.) off the rebound in front to preserve New Hampshire's 5-0 lead heading into the second intermission.
Faber netted her second goal of the game at 4:12 of the final frame to increase UNH's lead to six goals, 6-0, and close the scoring. Hitchcock, whose initial shot was stopped by Quandt, and Wright-Ward set up the tally.
New Hampshire controlled possession for a majority of the remainder of the game to preserve its shutout and first league championship since 1996, when the Wildcats were in the ECAC.
UNH broke the Hockey East Tournament scoring record for goals in a final with its six vs. Boston College.
Hitchcock broke the tourney record for points in a tournament (seven; 4g, 3a) and tied Faber for most goals in both a final (two) and tournament (four).
That duo, as well as Wright-Ward and Bellamy, also broke the Hockey East Tournament record for points in a final with three apiece. Bellamy's three assists also marked a tourney final record.
Pure Hockey Most Valuable Player
Sam Faber / Fr. / F / New Hampshire
RBK/CCM All-Tournament Team
G- Melissa Bourdon, New Hampshire
D- Martine Garland, New Hampshire
D- Kacey Bellamy, New Hampshire
F- Sam Faber, New Hampshire
F- Jennifer Hitchcock, New Hampshire
F- Sadie Wright-Ward, New Hampshire