Martine Garland
    The University of New Hampshire women’s hockey team, ranked No. 3 for the second consecutive week in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and No. 4 in the inaugural USCHO.com poll that was released this week, opens the 2007-08 season with a two-game road series Oct. 5-6 at St. Lawrence University. SLU, also playing its season opener this Friday, holds the opposite positions in the national polls.

Fans can follow the action of this weekend’s games at SLU online at http://www.stlawu.edu/sports/video.html (limited number of viewers) or via lives tats.

UNH has a 24-9-3 lifetime record against St. Lawrence, and that includes 1-1-1 last season, against the Saints. In the most recent meeting, SLU ousted the Wildcats from the 2007 NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Championship with a 6-2 victory in a regional game at UNH’s Whittemore Center.

New Hampshire won the initial 21 meetings in this series. Since the 1999-2000 season, SLU holds a 9-3-3 series edge with a 5-0-2 record in Appleton Arena. Five of the last 15 meetings have been decided by overtime and UNH is winless (0-2-3) in those five OT contests.

In UNH head coach Brian McCloskey’s tenure (since the 2002 season), the ‘Cats have a 2-3-3 record (0-1-3 in overtime) against St. Lawrence.

In the postseason matchup, SLU took a 1-0 first-period lead only to have UNH tie the score 28 seconds later. The visitors struck twice more in the opening stanza, however, to take a 3-1 lead and extended its advantage to three goals in the second period. UNH recorded a 10-2 shot advantage in the third period but could not reduce the 5-2 deficit. In special teams play, SLU was 2-for-3 on the power play and UNH went 0-4.

Last November at the Whittemore Center, the teams skated to a 1-1 tie and New Hampshire recorded a 4-0 victory. In the two games, UNH outscored the Saints 5-1, recorded a 57-36 shot advantage and went 2-for-7 on the power play as well as 11 of 12 on the penalty kill.

    New Hampshire returns 16 letterwinners – including three All-America selections (Martine Garland, Jennifer Hitchcock and Sadie Wright-Ward), one of whom has also been a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 Finalist (Garland in ‘07) – from a team that compiled a 28-4-5 overall record last season; the Wildcats went 18-1-2 in Hockey East and 12-2-1 on the road.

The top seven scorers (including two defensemen) return from the 2007 team. All told, the Wildcats return 79.2% (118/149) of their goals and 80.6% (183/227) of the assists. At the other end of the ice, Lucy Schoedel is the lone returning goaltender; she played in six games (five starts) and compiled a 4-0-1 record with a 0.92 GAA and .938 save percentage.

UNH has won four consecutive Hockey East regular-season crowns as well as each of the last two league tournament titles. The Wildcats were awarded a regional home game as one of the top four seeds in the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Championships in both 2006 and 2007.

    UNH athletics and Pack Network have partnered together to spawn the creation of UNHwildcats.tv. Women’s ice hockey is part of the “Wildcat All-Access Pass,” which is an annual subscription for $79.95 that provides not only all the live coverage of various UNH home athletic events, but also premium content and archives. Individual games are also available at $6.95 per game. (In addition to women’s hockey, other sports included in the “Wildcat All-Access Pass” are men’s hockey, football, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics.)

    New Hampshire garnered six of a possible seven first-place votes (coach can not vote for own team) and a total of 55 points to place atop the 2007-08 Hockey East Preseason Coaches Poll. This marks the fourth consecutive season that UNH has been tabbed the preseason favorite. Here is a complete look at the poll:
1.    UNH (6)    55
2    Boston College (2)    51
3.    Connecticut    41
4.    Boston University    38
5.    Providence    35
6.    Northeastern    24
7.    Vermont    20
8.    Maine    16

    UNH has a 26-3-1 overall record in season openers and that includes a 10-1-1 mark on the road. The Wildcats have won five consecutive season openers dating back to a 4-3 loss to Ohio State in October 2001.

This will be New Hampshire’s first road opener in three years; the most recent occurrence resulted in a 5-0 win at Vermont in the 2004-05 season.

Friday’s game will also mark the first time since the 1998-99 season that UNH opens against a nationally-ranked team. In October 1998, the ‘Cats skated to a 1-1 tie at fourth-ranked Minnesota.

UNH has shut out eight opening-day opponents with five shutouts in the last eight years, including last year’s 5-0 result against Niagara University.

    New Hampshire held St. Lawrence to just one goal in last year’s (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.

    UNH went 3-2-3 last season against teams from the ECAC with wins against Brown, St. Lawrence and Colgate as well as ties vs. St. Lawrence, Harvard and Dartmouth. The only regular-season loss was a 4-2 setback at (then #4) Dartmouth.

New Hampshire defeated Colgate on the road (4-1) as well as Brown (2-0) and St. Lawrence (4-0) at home; the Wildcats also skated to draws at home vs. SLU (1-1) and Dartmouth (3-3) as well as a 3-3 tie at Harvard.

    In the five-year tenure of head coach Brian McCloskey, UNH has won four Hockey East regular-season titles, two league tournament championships and made two NCAA tourney appearances (with advancement to the Frozen Four once). Here is a look at UNH’s numbers at national and league levels:
1.    Wisconsin    147-28-14    .814
2.    Minnesota    145-37–7    .786
3.    Mercyhurst    134-31-16    .785
4.    UNH    132-31-18    .779
5.    Harvard    127-35-11    .772
6.    St. Lawrence    138-40-15    .754
7.    Minn-Duluth    123-41-13    .732
8.    Dartmouth    117-42–8    .725
1.    UNH    72–8–9    .860
2.    Harvard    68-11-7    .831
3.    Wisconsin    69-12-7    .824
4.    Minnesota    78-16-2    .822
5.    Dartmouth    66-15-3    .804
6.    St. Lawrence    74-18-7    .783
7.    Minn-Duluth    67-17-6    .778
8.    Mercyhurst    65-17-8    .767
         (league-only games)
1.    UNH    80–8–9    .871
2.    Providence    64-24-9    .706
3.    UConn    41-43-13    .490
4.    Boston College    40-49-8    .454
5.    Boston U.    16-22-4    .429
6.    Maine    33-52-12    .402
7.    Northeastern    23-63-11    .294
8.    Vermont    2-38-2    .071

    Two current ‘Cats enter the season as part of UNH’s 37-member Century Club (100 career points) and three others are on the verge of joining that elite list.

Senior forward Jennifer Hitchcock is the active leader in both goals (69) and points (129); on the program’s career leaderboard, Hitchcock is 13th in goals and 19th in points.

Sadie Wright-Ward enters her senior season with 44 goals and 63 assists for 107 points; among active players, Wright-Ward ranks third in goals as well as second in assists and points.

Junior forward Sam Faber has amassed 97 points on 39 goals and 58 assists in 70 games.

Senior forward Leah Craig’s 46 goals and 44 assists account for 90 points.

Senior defenseman Martine Garland is UNH’s active leader in assists with 66, which ranks 25th overall (fourth amongst defensemen). She has also tallied 16 goals for a total of 82 points, and that point total is 10th among UNH defensemen. Only four defensemen are currently in the Century Club – Cindy MacKay (108), Kristen Thomas (108), Lauren Apollo (105) and Heather Reinke (103).
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