PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) recorded a career-high 27 saves and Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) tallied two assists to propel the No. 2 University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon’s 3-0 Hockey East victory against ProvidenceCollege at Schneider Arena.
With the victory, UNH claimed the Hockey East regular-season title outright for the third consecutive year and for the fifth straight year overall, including a share of the 2005 crown. The Wildcats extended their winning streak to seven games and unbeaten mark to 13 games (12-0-1) to improve to 27-3-1 overall and 17-0-1 in the league. PC, now winless in nine games (0-7-2) vs. the ‘Cats, is 15-13-3, 10-6-1.
It marked the second consecutive shutout and sixth this season for Herman, as well as the third straight shutout overall for the ‘Cats, who have held the opposition scoreless in the last 206 minutes, 50 seconds. PC goalie Danielle Ciarletta madde 24 saves, including 11 in the second period.
After Herman made a handful of quality saves – against shots from point-blank range and screened from the perimeter -- to keep the game scoreless through 15 minutes, SadieWright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) and StephHolmes (Rye, N.Y.) potted goals 25 seconds apart at 16:17 and 16:42, respectively, to quickly put the ‘Cats ahead 2-0.
Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) initiated the scoring sequence on the first goal with a pass across the blue line from the left point. Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) blasted a shot from the right point that Ciarletta stopped, but Wright-Ward corralled the rebound in the low slot and lifted the puck into the net. Then from a scrum in front of the net, Holmes pushed the puck underneath the PC goalie for her sixth goal of the season; Angela Taylor (Paisley, Scotland) and Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) were credited with an assist.
The Friars maintained strong puck possession and generated dangerous scoring opportunities on consecutive power plays midway through the second period, but once again Herman proved to be UNH’s best penalty killer by turning aside all six shots.
The Wildcats then went on the attack with extended puck control, but they could not extend their two-goal lead.
Providence opened the final frame with remaining on its fifth power play of the game but UNH’s penalty-kill unit limited the attack zone time and held the Friars to just one shot. The Wildcats were whistled for another penalty at , but once again the PK unit was effective and allowed just one shot.
UNH went on its fourth power play at and extended its lead to 3-0 at when Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) netted her national-leading 13th power-play goal of the season by redirecting Garland’s shot from the high slot. Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) made the initial pass from the left circle to garner an assist.
Garland climbed into a tie for fourth place on UNH’s all-time defenseman scoring list with 103 points as well as a tie into 10th on the career assist list at 84. With the goal, Wright-Ward extended her point-scoring streak to a team-high 11 games.
UNH has an eight-game road unbeaten streak – all wins – as well as a 37-game streak (34-0-3), including postseason, vs. Hockey East teams.
The Wildcats’ penalty kill extended its perfect marks to 12 games and 65 shorthanded situations with a 7-for-7 effort.
PC’s 27 shots marked the highest total yielded by the ‘Cats since Dec. 8, 2007, when MercyhurstCollege tallied 28.
New Hampshire and Providence conclude the home-and-home series Feb. 24 () at the WhittemoreCenter. Tickets are available online at www.unhwildcats.com or by calling 1-866-WILDCAT or at the WhittemoreCenter box office.