DURHAM, N.H. – Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) set up third-period goals by Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) and Julia Marty (Nussbaumen, Switzerland) to propel the second-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon’s 2-1 non-conference victory against top-ranked University of Wisconsin in front of 1,196 fans at the Whittemore Center.
UNH improved to 10-2-0 overall this season, including 5-1-0 vs. nationally-ranked teams, and 5-0-1 lifetime vs. the Badgers. Wisconsin lost its second consecutive game to fall to 9-3-1.
UNH goaltender Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) recorded 19 saves while UW counterpart Jessie Vetter stopped 24 shots.
Following a scoreless first period in which the Wildcats recorded a 10-8 shot advantage, the Badgers took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal at 13:47 of the second stanza. Jasmine Giles initiated the breakout with a pass through the neutral zone and Malee Windmeier advanced the puck from the right point to Hilary Knight, whose shot from the right circle sailed into the upper-right corner of the net.
UNH continued its march to the penalty box at 17:08 and 18:11 to give the visitors a two-skater advantage, but six seconds later the Badgers were whistled for a penalty to reduce the power-play edge to 4x3. Another penalty was called on the ‘Cats at 19:22, but the home team withstood the three consecutive UW power plays to remain just one goal down, 1-0, at the second intermission.
With both defenses yielding little in the third period, Craig pulled New Hampshire even at 13:20. Hitchcock skated off the boards from behind the net to deep in the left circle, drew two defenders and executed a pass across the slot to an unmarked Craig. She patiently waited as she drifted from the inside of the right circle towards the slot and lifted a shot into the upper-left corner of the net. Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) was also credited with an assist.
Hitchcock, again coming off the boards behind the net, sent a pass to Julia Marty as she cut in from the left point and Marty’s shot through traffic found the back of the net for her first career goal and a 2-1 UNH lead at 15:59.
Wisconsin called time out with 59 seconds remaining, pulled Vetter in favor of an extra skater with 36 seconds to play and went on its seventh power play with 24 seconds on the clock. The Badgers worked the puck behind the net and threw it into the slot with 10 seconds remaining, but UNH’s Wright-Ward intercepted the pass and cleared the puck the length of the ice to secure the win.
In the first period, the Wildcats controlled play early and generated strong scoring chances by Hitchcock and Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.). It was the Badgers who came out strong in the second stanza and Herman had to display some athleticism in stopping both Angie Keseley and Meghan Duggan in the opening minute, as well as Mallory Deluce minutes later.
UNH had not played the No. 1-ranked team in the nation since defeating Wisconsin, 2-1, Nov. 27, 2006 at Dartmouth College.
This marked the first time this season that UNH topped the 1,000 mark in attendance at the Whittemore Center. The Wildcats had five home crowds of 1,000+ last year, including twice in the regular season.
New Hampshire and Wisconsin conclude the two-game series Nov. 18 (3 p.m.) at the Whittemore Center. Fans will be able to watch the game online at UNHwildcats.tv.