DURHAM, N.H. – Senior Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) tallied a goal and an assist and classmates Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) and Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) recorded a goal and an assist, respectively, to lead the second-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to a 5-0 Hockey East victory against eighth-ranked University of Connecticut on UNH’s Senior Day on Saturday afternoon.
UNH, which had already secured the top seed in the upcoming Hockey East Championship Tournament, extended its win streak to nine games and unbeaten streak to 15 games (14-0-1) to improve to 29-3-1 overall and 19-0-1 in Hockey East; the Wildcats also have a 39-game unbeaten streak of 36-0-3, including postseason, against league opponents and a 12-game home unbeaten streak (11-0-1). UConn, defeated 8-2 by the Wildcats at the Whittemore Center on Nov. 10, is now 22-6-5, 13-4-3.
Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.), who was named a 2008 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 Finalist earlier this week, also finished with a goal and an assist; she tallied a career-high five points in the November win. UNH goaltender Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Sask.) recorded her seventh shutout of the season with an eight-save effort. UConn counterpart Brittany Wilson made double-digit saves all three periods (12-10-15) to finish with 37.
Faber opened the scoring at 12:00, and it proved to be her national-leading 12th game-winning goal of the season. Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) won possession behind the net and pushed the puck to the right for Angela Taylor (Paisley, Scotland), who then moved the puck down low and Faber wristed a shot into the upper-left corner.
The Wildcats took that 1-0 lead and a 13-3 shot advantage into the first intermission, then netted three goals in the middle stanza to begin to pull away.
Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) struck at 1:39 to match Faber for the team lead in goals with her 22nd of the season. Wakefield intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, skated into the zone and, from the inner-part of the right circle, lifted a shot pass Wilson.
The senior duo of Wright-Ward and Hitchcock extended UNH’s advantage to 3-0 at 6:18. Wright-Ward curled behind the net and fed the puck in front to Hitchcock, who was denied by Wilson. Wright-Ward circled around to the slot to collect the rebound, however, and fired a shot under the crossbar for her 19th goal of the year.
New Hampshire increased the cushion to 4-0 at 15:39 when Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.), positioned in the low slot, collected Faber’s pass from behind the net to score. Faber initiated the sequence from behind the net when she moved the puck to Bellamy on the left boards and then collected the return pass before throwing the puck in front.
UConn opened the third period on its fifth power-play opportunity of the game. Herman turned aside shots from Jaclyn Hawkins and Nicole Tritter, and they proved to be the only shots attempted by the Huskies the entire stanza.
Craig potted her 10th goal of the season at 2:55 to give the ‘Cats a 5-0 lead. Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) carried the puck into the offensive zone and centered the puck to Wright-Ward, who cut down the slot and dropped the puck for Craig. She also beat Wilson high for the score.
Wright-Ward extended her point-scoring streak to 13 games while Hitchcock’s now stands at nine.
Saturday’s game marked the last regular-season home game for six UNH seniors. In addition to the aforementioned trio of Wright-Ward, Craig and Hitchcock, the Class of 2008 included Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario), Nicole Goguen (Truro, Nova Scotia) and Diana Saly (Edina, Minn.). In four years, this class has compiled a 111-18-13 overall record that includes 62-5-9 at the Whittemore Center and 69-5-8 in Hockey East; the team has won four regular-season league titles and each of the last two tourney titles.
New Hampshire and UConn conclude the regular season March 2 (2 p.m.) at UConn’s Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum. The 6th Annual Hockey East Championship Tournament is March 8-9 at that arena.