#2 WOMEN'S HOCKEY ICES #8 UCONN, 6-1

MICAELA LONG
BOXSCORE

STORRS, Conn.Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.), Steph Holmes (Rye, N.Y.) and Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) all tallied a goal and two assists to propel the second-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Sunday afternoon’s 6-1 Hockey East victory in the regular-season finale against eighth-ranked University of Connecticut at Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum.

UNH extended its winning streak to 10 games and unbeaten streak to 16 games (15-0-1) to become the first team to complete the Hockey East season unbeaten at 20-0-1 (the Wildcats had one-loss seasons in ’04, ’06 and ’07). UNH -- which also has unbeaten streaks of nine games (9-0-0) on the road, 40 games in Hockey East (37-0-3 including postseason) and 10 games (9-0-1) vs. UConn – enters the postseason at 30-3-1. The Huskies are now 22-7-5 and 13-5-3 in the league.

In addition to the aforementioned Wildcats, Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) and Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) recorded multiple points with a goal and an assist. Leah Craig (Seaforth, Ontario) netted UNH’s other goal and Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) finished with 21 saves, including 10 in the third period.

 UConn starting goalie Brittany Wilson was charged with the loss. She exited the game with 12 saves and the Huskies trailing 4-0 at 3:41 of the second period. Jennie Bellonio went the rest of the way and stopped 22 shots.

The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission with a goal early and late in the opening stanza. Craig netted her second goal in as many days when she redirected the shot by Martine Garland (Toronto, Ontario) from the right point into the net at 3:47. Hitchcock, who along with Craig and Sadie Wright-Ward (Durham, N.H.) cycled the puck on the right wing, was also credited with an assist.

In the eighth minute, UConn’s Michelle Binning rushed down the left wing and, after drawing the defense to her, centered the puck to an unmarked Jaclyn Hawkins cutting down the slot. Herman slid to the top of the crease to make the save.

Bellamy, also with her second goal in as many days, extended UNH’s lead to 2-0 at 17:49 when her fluttering shot from the right point eluded Wilson and bounced into the net. Bellamy initially made a strong play in the high slot to keep the puck in the offensive zone on Wright-Ward’s centering pass that sailed through the slot from deep in the left circle.

In the closing minute of the first, a UNH turnover in its defensive zone led to Amy Hollstein’s point-blank shot that Herman enveloped. Herman again stood strong in the opening seconds of the second stanza, as she held the right post to deny Dominique Thibault’s initial shot and another off the rebound.

New Hampshire then quickly extended its lead to 4-0 with goals 100 seconds apart by Wakefield and Holmes. Wakefield netted her team-leading 23rd goal of the season at 2:01 off a rebound from Holmes’ initial shot from the left circle. Long earned an assist on that tally with her pass to Holmes, who scored a power-play goal at 3:41. Bellamy once again made an outstanding effort to keep the puck in the offensive zone – this time at the left point. She then moved the puck down low for Long, who circled behind the net and threw a pass down low for Holmes.

Thibault struck at 15:20 to pull the Huskies within 4-1. She gained possession in the defensive end and navigated her way through UNH’s defense in the neutral zone and, while fending off a Wildcat, wristed a shot from the slot into the net.

Hitchcock’s power-play goal at 13:40 extended the Wildcats’ advantage to 5-1 and Long scored with 51 seconds remaining to close the scoring. Bellamy initiated the scoring sequence on the fifth goal with a pass through the neutral zone along the right boards to Wakefield, who carried the puck into the right circle and fired a pass into the slot, where an unmarked Hitchcock flipped a shot into the open left side of the net. Long, with the assistance of Holmes, scored off a faceoff.

Wright-Ward extended her point-scoring streak to 14 games and Hitchcock, who netted her national-leading 14th power-play goal, now has a 10-game point streak.

Following the weekend sweep of UConn, UNH has an 11-2-0 record against nationally-ranked teams that includes 5-2-0 on the road. The Wildcats have outscored the opposition 50-20 in those 13 games. Herman compiled an 11-1-0 record with a 1.42 GAA and .927 save percentage in 12 games vs. nationally-ranked teams.

In UNH’s three-game season-series sweep of UConn, the Wildcats outscored the Huskies 19-3 and recorded a 126-41 shot advantage.

UNH is the top seed of the 6th annual Hockey East Championship Tournament and will play fourth-seeded Boston University in a March 8 (12 p.m.) semifinal game at UConn’s Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum. The March 9 (12:30 p.m.) championship game will be tape-delayed on NESN at 6 p.m. Tickets are available by calling the UConn box office at (877) 288-2666.

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