WOMEN'S ICE HOCKEY READIES TO BEGIN 2007-08 SEASON
Sam Faber
DURHAM, N.H. -- In recent months, the University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey program has been highly visible around the globe on the international hockey scene, as a total of eight student-athletes on the 2008 UNH team have been chosen to participate in select national programs.

In late August, juniors Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) and Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.)skated on the U.S. Under-22 Select Team against freshman Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario), who helped lead Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team to a sweep of the three-game exhibition series.

Bellamy and Faber were joined by freshman Raylen Dziengelewski (Southwick, Mass.) at the U.S. National Festival earlier that summer, while Wakefield competed alongside classmates Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) and Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) at Canada’s Under-19 camp.

International experience for UNH’s incoming class – six of the seven freshmen can boast this achievement – extends to Europe, where sisters Julia and Stefanie Marty (Nussbaumen, Switzerland) competed at the World Championships this past spring for Team Switzerland. The duo also competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Furthermore, eight other current Wildcats have competed at national camps in recent years. Senior Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) is a three-time member of the Canadian U-22 Team; Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) and Nicole Goguen (Truro, Nova Scotia), two other seniors, have also skated on that team. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Angela Taylor (Paisley, Scotland) –UNH’s first European player – was a member of the Great Britain National Team from 2001-05.

With four consecutive Hockey East regular-season titles, two straight league tournament titles and two NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Championship appearances in as many years, the 2008 Wildcats now look to make an impact in NCAA competition.

FORWARDS
    New Hampshire has a diversified attack that can beat you with the power of senior assistant captain Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) and  classmate Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) or the finesse of junior Sam Faber and sophomore Kelly Paton.

Hitchcock, whose lengthy list of collegiate accolades includes a 2006 RBK All-America selection, ranked 16th in the nation in goals per game as well as fourth in power-play goals last season. She led the team in both statistics with 25 goals and 15 power-play tallies, and ranked second in points (38). Hitchcock is the program’s active leader in career goals (69) and points (129).

Wright-Ward, another 2006 RBK All-America honoree, tied for third on the team in assists in 2007 with 21. She reached the personal milestone of 100 career points last season and enters her final year as a Wildcat with 44 goals and 63 assists for 107 points.

Faber, a Hockey East First Team All-Star and New England All-Star last season, led the Wildcats in both points (46) and assists (29) a year ago to rank No. 11 nationally in assists per game and 12th in points per game. With 97 career points, Faber is on the verge of joining the 37 other Wildcats in the Century Club.

Paton, who tied Faber for second on the team in plus/minus at +32, made an immediate impact in 2007 and garnered Hockey East All-Rookie Team honors. She led the Wildcats’ rookie class and was third overall in both points (34) and assists (12) as well as fourth in goals (13). Paton ranked 13th in the nation in rookie scoring at 0.92 ppg.

Not to be overlooked is the contribution of senior Leah Craig, who was one of seven ‘Cats to record double digits in both goals (14) and assists (13) last season; she tied Hitchcock for the team lead in game-winning goals. Craig is also approaching the Century Club as she enters the 2008 season with 90 career points. She is equally adept at finishing or creating that opportunity for teammates, which is evident by her 46 goals and 44 assists.

Junior Angela Taylor is a physical presence for the ‘Cats. After battling through nagging injuries her freshman season, Taylor skated in 33 games last year and compiled seven goals and seven assists for 14 points.

Micaela Long
(South Boston, Mass.) and Steph Holmes (Rye, N.Y.) also made significant contributions last year as freshmen. Long was one of the other ‘Cats who recorded double digits in both goals (10) and assists (11) while Holmes tallied a total of 16 points.

Also back is sophomore Shannon Sisk (Pipersvielle, Pa.), who saw limited action in 20 games a year ago.

Added to the mix will be freshmen Stefanie Marty, Jenn Wakefield and Courtney Birchard.

Marty has been a Swiss National Team member since 2003 and was nominated for the Swiss Hockey Woman of the Year in 2005.

Wakefield, another powerful forward,  participated at the Canadian U-22 National Development Camp in 2005, 2006 and 2007. She also led the Ontario U-18 Team to the championship in 2006.

Birchard, who also competed for Team Ontario in 2005, guided the Toronto Jr. Aeros to provincial titles in 2005 and 2006 as well as playoff champions in ‘04, ‘06 and ‘07.

DEFENSEMEN
    UNH returns a plethora of talent on the blue line led by senior captain Martine Garland and senior assistant captain Nicole Goguen.

Garland is one of the strongest two-way defenseman in the collegiate game and is a cornerstone of both UNH special teams units. An RBK All-America selection in 2006 and two-time Hockey East First Team All-Star, Garland is perennially among the national leaders in defenseman scoring; last year, she ranked 10th in scoring at 0.84 ppg on the strength of 25 assists, which ranked second on the team. Last year, Garland had a team high plus/minus rating of +37.

Goguen may not grab the spotlight with her pedestrian offensive production (19 points in 107 career games), but her defensive skills help anchor one of the stingiest units in the nation – UNH allowed a paltry 16.27 shots per game last season.

Another highly-skilled two-way defenseman is junior Kacey Bellamy. She was the Wildcats’ leading goal scorer among blue liners with 10 tallies and she was second only to Garland in both assists (19) and points (29). She ranked 12th in the nation in defensemen scoring and was 14th in power-play goals with nine.

Maggie Joyce (Hudson, Ohio), another junior, is more renown for her physical attributes than her offensive production. Joyce is adept at keeping opposing forwards away from the net, and occasionally on UNH’s power play she creates havoc in front of the net.

Sophomore Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.) played in 30 games last year as a rookie. She brings invaluable depth to the defensive corps.

Senior Diana Saly (Edina, Minn.) willl join the women’s ice hockey team after the conclusion of UNH’s women’s soccer season, as she joined that team as a walk-on goalkeeper in 2007. Last year on the ice, Saly tied for fifth overall and second among defensemen (with Bellamy) in plus/minus at +23.

The defensive corps welcomes freshmen Julia Marty, Raylen Dziengelewski and Carole LeBlanc (Grand-Digue, New Brunswick) to the unit in 07-08.

Marty has skated alongside her sister on the Swiss National Team since 2003. She has also played for EV Zug (LKA, the highest Swiss league) from 2003-07.

Dziengelewski, who led the Connecticut Polar Bears U-19 Team to the NAHA championship in 2005 and ‘06, skated at the USA Hockey National Camp in 2003, ‘05, ‘06 and ‘07.

LeBlanc, who has skated for Team New Brunswick, recorded 22 goals, 32 assists and 54 points as a junior at Brewster Academy to rank second on the team in all three statistics.

GOALTENDERS
    The last time UNH needed to replace a four-year starter in goal, the Wildcats turned to freshman Melissa Bourdon. That worked out well for the ‘Cats, as she became the NCAA record holder for career wins (86) and career shutouts (30).

Now, New Hampshire needs to fill the skates of the graduated Bourdon. To do that, coach McCloskey will turn to sophomore Lucy Schoedel (Ithaca, N.Y.) and freshman Kalyley Herman.

Schoedel played in six games (with five starts) last season as a rookie, and her statistics included a 0.92 GAA, .938 save percentage and two shutouts in compiling a 4-0-1 record. She shut out Bemidji State in her collegiate debut and made a season-high 21 saves at Colgate.

Herman is a highly-touted prospect who competed at Team Canada’s National Under-19 Camp that was held in Calgary at the end of July. She competed in a round robin series that included Japan’s Senior National Team

SCHEDULE
    New Hampshire is on a quest to return to the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Championship in 2008 and advance to the Frozen Four in Duluth, Minnesota.

That quest begins October 5-6 for a two-game series at the University of St. Lawrence – the team that ousted the Wildcats from the 2007 NCAA tournament.

UNH faces off against Colgate University in its home opener October 14th, then plays eight consecutive Hockey East league games beginning October 21st vs. Boston University. That stretch includes games against regular-season runner-up Boston College on October 25th (road) and November 7th (home).

That home tilt vs. BC is the first in an eight-game homestand for the Wildcats that features a two-game series against defending national champion University of Wisconsin (November 17-18).

December marks the conclusion of the homestand as it begins with a home game against Boston University (Dec. 1) and continues at Northeastern University (Dec. 2).

The ‘Cats close the 2007 calendar year with a two-game road series against Mercyhurst College (Dec. 7-8) and a home matchup against regional rival Harvard University (Dec. 14).

The schedule resumes January 5th on the road against another rival from the ECAC – Brown University.

One more non-conference team remains on the regular-season schedule, and that has the Wildcats traveling across the state to face off against intrastate rival Dartmouth College on January 17th.

Two days later, the ‘Cats play the first of their three games against longtime nemesis and league tournament runner-up Providence College at the Whittemore Center on January 19th.

In February, UNH has marquee league matchups with a road contest against Boston College and a home-and-home series vs. Providence.

The regular-season concludes March 1-2 with a home-and-home set against UConn that includes Senior Day on the 1st.

The 2008 postseason schedule begins March 8-9 at the Hockey East Championships, which will be played at UConn’s Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum. The NCAA tourney begins March 14-16 with four on-campus regional games and continues to Duluth for the Frozen Four.

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