UNH women's hockey dominates USCHO awards

Three Wildcats named to First Team

Jennifer Hitchcock

DURHAM, N.H. - Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario), Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) and Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.), all sophomores on the No. 1-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team, were named to the All-USCHO First Team and UNH head coach Brian McCloskey was named USCHO Coach of the Year on Tuesday.

In addition, Hitchcock received the USCHO Most Improved Player Award, junior Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba) was feted Defensive Forward of the Year and both Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) and Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) were voted to the All-USCHO Rookie Team.

McCloskey, honored as the Hockey East Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year and third time in the league's four-year existence, guided UNH to a third consecutive Hockey East regular-season title and first league tournament championship in 2006. The Wildcats have won a school single-season record 33 games in 2006 and are undefeated in 29 games (28-0-1) with a 17 game winning streak, both of which are NCAA single-season records.

Garland, a tri-captain, is ranked first among defensemen - and 25th overall - in the nation in points per game (1.09 ppg) and No. 4 in assists (0.94 per game). She is third on the team in assists (31) and fourth in points (36). Garland has recorded a point in 20 of 33 games this season with 12 multiple-point efforts, including 10 multiple-assist games, and she recorded totals of 1-11-12 in nine games vs. nationally-ranked teams. She has four points in three postseason games with two goals and two assists. Garland?s other 2006 honors include Hockey East First Team All-Star and USCHO.com Defensive Player of the Week.

Hitchcock leads the nation in both points per game (1.75) and power-play goals (13), and is also No. 3 in the nation in both goals (0.81 gpg) and assists 0.94), No. 9 in game-winning goals (five) and No. 10 in shorthanded goals (two). She is the team leader in goals (29), assists (34) points (63), power-play goals, game-winning goals and shorthanded goals. In addition, Hitchcock ranks third on the team in both plus/minus (+40) and shooting percentage (.188). She has recorded a point in 30 of 36 games with 21 multiple-point efforts, and both of those numbers are also best on the team. Her totals vs. nine nationally-ranked teams included four goals and eight assists. Hitchcock, who joined Garland as a Hockey East First Team All-Star, has recorded five goals and four assists for nine points in three postseason games.

Wright-Ward, the TPS Hockey East Player of the Year and Hockey East Scoring Champion, ranks No. 4 nationally in points (1.67 per game), No. 5 in goals (0.78 gpg), No. 6 in assists (0.89 apg), No. 8 in power-play goals (eight) and No. 22 in game-winning goals (four). She is second on the team in goals (28), assists (32), points (60), game-winning goals and power-play goals, and has a team-best plus/minus rating of +47. She has recorded a point in 29 of 36 games and matched Hitchcock?s team-high total of 21 multiple-point efforts. Wright-Ward recorded 11 points with five goals and six assists in nine games vs. nationally-ranked teams. In three postseason games, she has one goal and five assists for six points.

Hekle, UNH's 2005 recipient of the Tricia Dunn Award (best defensive forward), is a 2006 Top Ten Finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding player in women?s collegiate hockey. She has recorded 11 goals and 21 assists for 31 points in 36 games this season. She also has three power-play goals and three game-winning goals, as well as a plus/minus rating of +26. Hekle has recorded a point in 18 of 36 games with seven multiple-point efforts, including her first career hat trick. She became the 34th UNH Wildcat to record 100 career points when she scored a goal vs. Harvard on Jan. 11.

Bellamy is ranked No. 14 in the nation in defensemen scoring at 0.64 points per game. She has recorded seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points in 36 games to lead UNH defensemen in goals and rank second among blueliners in both assists and points. Bellamy is also second among team defensemen - and fifth overall - in plus/minus at +38. She had a point in 17 of 36 games with 1-5-6 in nine games vs. nationally-ranked teams. She also has three assists to account for all of her points -- all were in the Hockey East championship game vs. Boston College -- in three postseason games.

Faber, the ITECH Hockey East Rookie of the Year and Hockey East Championship MVP, is No. 7 in the nation - third among rookies - in scoring at 1.42 points per game. She is also No. 9 in assists (0.81 apg), No. 17 in goals (0.61 gpg), No. 10 in shorthanded goals (two) and No. 22 in game-winning goals (four). Faber ranks third on the team in points (51) and goals (22), as well as fourth in assists (29), first in plus/minus (+47) and second in shooting percentage (.200). Faber has recorded a point in 28 of 36 games, including each of the last 17, with 14 multiple-point efforts. In nine games against nationally-ranked teams, she had five goals and four assists. In three postseason contests, Faber has six points on four goals and two assists.

UNH (33-2-1) is the top seed in the 2006 NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Championship and advanced out of the regional round with a 3-1 victory vs. Harvard on March 17 to play the University of Minnesota in Friday's late semifinal game (8 p.m. Eastern) at Minnesota?s Mariucci Arena. The national championship game is March 26 at 4 p.m. (Eastern).

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