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THE UNH TOURNAMENT
The University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team (12-1-1 overall, 5-1-0 Hockey East) continues its seven-game homestand Thanksgiving weekend with the UNH Tournament, which pits Hockey East vs. the CHA and features three top-10 teams. The Wildcats welcome Boston College, Mercyhurst College and Wayne State University to the tourney, which will be held Nov. 24-25 at the Whittemore Center. Game times are 4 and 7 p.m. both days, and live stats will be available for all four games at www.unhwildcats.com
The tournament schedule is:
Friday, Nov. 24
4 pm – Mercyhurst vs. Boston College
7 pm – Wayne State vs. UNH
Saturday, Nov. 25
4 pm –Wayne State vs. Boston College
7 pm – Mercyhurst vs. UNH
Friday’s game will enter the record book as the first meeting between New Hampshire and Wayne State.
UNH has a 4-2-1 lifetime record, including last year’s 2-1 victory at the Whittemore Center, vs. Mercyhurst. Six of the previous meetings have been here in Durham, and the ‘Cats have a 4-2-0 edge in those games. The Lakers were 4-0 victors against the Wildcats in the 2004 UNH Thanksgiving Tournament.
In last year’s game, Jennifer Hitchcock gave New Hampshire a 1-0 lead midway through the second stanza and the Wildcats took that one-goal lead into the second intermission. MC tied the score on Courtney Unruh’s tally at 7:05 of the third period. The Lakers nearly took the lead when Stefanie Bourbeau’s shot caromed off the right post with one minute remaining in regulation, but the Wildcats quickly went on the counterattack and Sadie Wright-Ward scored with :45 to play. MC was unable to gain possession in the offensive zone the rest of the way. UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon made 12 saves, while MC counterpart Laura Hosier stopped 18 shots.
Back in the 2004 UNH Thanksgiving Tournament, Hosier recorded a shutout with 17 saves in her collegiate debut. The Lakers took a 1-0 lead early in the first period, then netted goals 2:12 apart early in the middle stanza to build a 3-0 advantage. MC generated a 21-17 shot advantage.
THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
New Hampshire enters Thanksgiving weekend with a 12-1-1 overall record that includes 8-0-1 at home and 3-1-1 vs. nationally-ranked teams. The Wildcats are in the midst of a seven-game homestand that started No. 11 with a two-game series vs. fifth-ranked St. Lawrence University.
UNH has outscored the opposition 17-4 through four games of its current seven-game homestand.
Six Wildcats, led by Sam Faber at 1.50 ppg, enter the tourney averaging more than one point per game this season.
New Hampshire has held an opponent to single digits in shots for an entire game three times this season. In comparison, the Wildcats have recorded double figures in shots all three periods of a game six times (29 of 42 periods overall).
UNH’s streak of 11 consecutive games with a power-play goal ended in last Saturday’s 5-1 victory vs. Northeastern University. The Wildcats went 0-for-4 in that game.
The ‘Cats scored two even-strength goals in the Nov. 12th 4-0 win vs. St. Lawrence. The last time UNH netted multiple even-strength goals in a game was eight games earlier – Oct. 7 at Minnesota.
New Hampshire held St. Lawrence to just one goal in the Nov. 11-12 weekend at the Whittemore Center with a 1-1 tie and a 4-0 victory. The last time the Saints were limited to one goal in two games of a regular-season weekend was in the 1999-2000 season.
STACKING THEM UP
Here is a comparison of how UNH and the rest of the tournament field enter the weekend in the national statistics (34 teams):
UNH WSU MC BC
Off. (gpg) 7 (4.07) 18 (2.83) 8 (3.92) 4 (4.18)
Def. (gpg) 4 (1.50) 25 (3.50) 8 (1.83) 7 (1.82)
PP (%) 3 (.274) 10 (.239) 11 (.222) 13 (.190)
PK (%) 2 (.916) 31 (.742) 11 (.875) 7 (.890)
Win % 3 (.893) 20 (.417) 4 (.875) 6 (.864)
HOME SWEET HOME
The Wildcats home winning streak ended at 21 games following the Nov. 11th 1-1 tie vs. St. Lawrence University, but the draw and subsequent win extended UNH’s unbeaten streak at the Whittemore Center to 29 games; following last weekend’s sweep of Northeastern, the mark is now 31 games (27-0-4). The last visiting team to win at the Whitt was Dartmouth College (Jan. 5, 2005).
Since the arena opened in the 1995-96 season, UNH has compiled a 145-29-14 home record, which is an .809 winning percentage.
UNH won all 17 games at the Whittemore Center in the 2005-06 season. New Hampshire had not gone through a season undefeated at home since a 7-0-1 record at Snively Arena in the 1992 season.
Wildcats in the nation
A handful of UNH skaters enter the weekend among the national leaders. Sam Faber is the highest-ranking Wildcat in points per game at No. 16 (1.50); she is also ranked among the leaders in assists per game (17th; 0.93).
Kacey Bellamy, the leader in goals by a defenseman with seven, ranks No. 6 among blueliners in points at 1.15 per game. Martine Garland follows closely behind at No. 9 (1.07 ppg).
Sadie Wright-Ward has ascended into the top 10 in assists at No. 9 with 1.00 assists per game. Kelly Paton is one of six players in the nation tied for the lead in shorthanded goals (two) and she is 12th in scoring among rookies at 1.07 ppg.
Melissa Bourdon ranks seventh in goals-against-average (1.52).
HONORING A COACHING LEGEND
For years now, photos of UNH women’s hockey teams and headshots of current Wildcats have been displayed on the concourse of the Whittemore Center. On December 10, 2006, this display will officially become commemorated as the Russell J. McCurdy Gallery with a dedication ceremony prior to the game vs. intrastate rival Dartmouth College.
McCurdy, an inductee of the UNH Hall of Fame, guided the Wildcats to a 264-36-10 overall record for an .868 winning percentage in 15 seasons (1978-1992). The program went undefeated in the initial four seasons (1978-81) at 72-0-1.
UNH won the EAIAW championship all four years of its existence (1980-93) and the ‘Cats won four ECAC titles under McCurdy’s direction.
HOCKEY EAST TOURNEY COMES TO DURHAM
UNH’s Whittemore Center will be the site of the 2007 Women’s Hockey East Championship. The semifinal games will take place March 3 and the championship game is March 4. This will be the first time in the league’s five-year history that the tournament will be held outside of Boston. Northeastern University’s Matthews Arena was the site of the 2003, 2004 and 2006 championships, and Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena was the venue in 2005.
Sadie Wright-Ward is on the verge of becoming the 36th member of UNH’s Century Club (100 career points). Wright-Ward enters the tourney with 95 career points on 39 goals and 56 assists. Of the 35 current members in the Century Club, only one hailed from New Hampshire – Tricia Dunn (Derry).
A POINT A GAME
Odds are that you wouldn’t guess that the Wildcat with the longest active point-scoring streak is Kacey Bellamy, who carries a five-game streak into the UNH Tournament. Bellamy has one goal and six assists for a total of seven points in that span.
A couple of other Wildcats have notable streaks. Kelly Paton has scored a goal in four consecutive games and Sam Faber has an identical-length streak in assists.
Angela Taylor has recorded two points each of the last three games, including her first career multiple-goal game last Saturday vs. Northeastern, and she has scored at least one goal in all three of those contests.
Sadie Wright-Ward had the longest point-scoring streak at the outset of the season with at least one assist in each of the first eight games of the season. Martine Garland matched that eight-game point streak from Oct. 6–Nov. 2 and recorded three goals and 10 assists in that span.
Six ‘Cats are averaging at least one point per game. Sam Faber, who had a streak of five consecutive games with a goal from Sept. 30–Oct. 20, is the team leader at 1.50 ppg. She is followed by Bellamy (1.15), then Jennifer Hitchcock, Kelly Paton, Garland and Wright-Ward are all at 1.07 ppg.
UNH is the winningest women’s college hockey program in the United States. The Wildcats became the first to reach 500 victories and they are on the verge of No. 600. Now in their 30th year as a varsity sport at New Hampshire, the ‘Cats enter the weekend with an overall record of 595-154-49 for a .776 winning percentage.