BOSTON  – For the third consecutive season, the University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team was selected first in the Women’s Hockey East Coaches Poll, which was released Tuesday. UNH is guided by three-time Hockey East Coach of the Year Brian McCloskey and returns both the Hockey East Player of the Year – junior forward Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) – and Rookie of the Year, sophomore forward Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.).
    UNH, which won the Hockey East regular-season title in 2004, 2005 and 2006 as well as the league tournament title in 2006, garnered all possible seven first-place votes and a total of 56 points. Boston College, which finished as runner-up to the Wildcats in both the regular season and tourney last season, received one first-place vote and 50 points.
    Boston University (41 points), Providence College (38), University of Connecticut (33), Northeastern University (25), University of Maine (22) and University of Vermont (15) complete the poll.
    UNH returns 17 letterwinners, including All-America selections Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario), Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) and Wright-Ward as well as a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 Finalist in Nicole Hekle (Winnipeg, Manitoba), from a team that won a school-record 33 games last season. The defense is backboned by Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec) in goal, and she has been the Hockey East Goaltending Champion each of the past three years.
    New Hampshire opens the 2006-07 season Sept. 29 at home against Niagara University and the teams face off again Sept. 30. Both games at the Whittemore Center begin at 7 p.m.
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