DURHAM, N.H. – Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) and Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) both recorded two points and Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) tallied 22 saves to lead the No. 2 ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Friday night’s 4-1 non-conference victory against No. 1 ranked Harvard University before 1,012 fans at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, now 8-2-0 this season against nationally-ranked teams with a 3-0-0 mark vs. No. 1 ranked teams, improved to 17-3-0 overall. Harvard, now winless vs. the Wildcats in six straight games (0-5-1), suffered its first loss of the season to fall to 11-1-0.
Faber netted a shortanded goal 48 seconds into the second period to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead – it marked her seventh game-winning goal of the season – and struck again at 3:07 of the third to extend UNH’s advantage to 4-0. Long tallied an assist on the team’s first goal of the game, a power-play tally by Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) at 6:16 of the opening stanza, then scored at 5:22 of the second period to put the ‘Cats ahead 3-0.
Herman recorded 10 of her 22 saves in the third period and held the eighth-ranked offense in the nation (3.64 goals per game) scoreless until Jenny Brine scored at 9:17 of the final frame. She blanked the nation’s top-ranked power play on seven opportunities.
Harvard goalie Christina Kessler was credited with eight saves, seven of which came in the first period as UNH scored on three consecutive shots spanning the second and third stanzas.
The Wildcats scored on their first power-play opportunity of the night to take a 1-0 lead. Long won the battle for the puck on the left half-boards back to Birchard at the left point. Harvard’s defense collapsed back, which allowed Birchard to skate towards the net unmarked and snap a wrist shot into the upper-left corner of the net.
Herman stood tall midway through the period when she denied Brine, who had slipped past the defense down the slot. Minutes later, Sarah Vaillancourt picked up a loose puck in the slot and lifted a shot off the left post.
Late in the first, with UNH on its third power play, Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) was denied from the right circle and Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) was stoned near the right post by Kessler off the rebound.
New Hampshire took a 1-0 lead – and an 8-7 shot advantage – into the first intermission.
The Crimson opened the second stanza on the power play, but it was the ‘Cats who were opportunistic. Bellamy gathered the puck behind the net and carried around to Herman’s left, where she fired a pass through the neutral zone that sprung Faber behind Harvard’s defense. Faber skated down the slot and deked Kessler before putting a close-range shot between the leg pads and into the net.
Another breakaway, this time when Long came off the bench to sneak behind the defense just outside the offensive zone, led to UNH’s three-goal lead. Julia Marty (Nussbaumen, Switzerland) stepped up from the Wildcats’s defensive blueline to intercept the puck near mid-ice and chip it forward. Long skated in alone on Kessler down the slot and beat her five-hole.
Long’s even-strength goal ended a streak of eight consecutive UNH goals on special teams play (six power-play goals, two shorthanded) that spanned three games dating back to Dec. 7 at Mercyhurst College.
Faber’s team-leading 14th goal extended the Wildcats’ lead to 4-0. Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) won control of a loose puck just outside the offensive zone and pushed it forward to Faber, who cut down the slot and once again placed a shot between Kessler’s legs.
Minutes later, the Crimson hit another pipe when Sarah Wilson’s shot from the right circle caromed off the far post. Harvard broke into the scoring column when Vaillancourt, from the high slot, made a backhand pass to Caitlin Cahow at the right point. Cahow slid the puck down low to Brine, who scored from the top of the crease.
In the closing minutes, Herman preserved UNH’s three-goal cushion with a blocker save against Vaillancourt’s shot from the right circle. The rebound sailed to Cahow in the high slot, but her shot was also stopped by Herman.
This marked the third time this season that UNH topped 1,000 fans at the Whittemore Center. The ‘Cats drew 1,196 for the Nov. 17 game vs. then-No. 1 University of Wisconsin and 1,226 the following day vs. the Badgers.
New Hampshire is on break until Jan. 5, 2008, when the Wildcats travel to play Brown University. The Wildcats’ next home game is Jan. 19 (2 p.m.) against Providence College. Tickets are available online at www.unhwildcats.com or by phone at 1-866-WILDCAT or at the Whittemore Center box office.